Summer 2009 Waterkeeper Magazine

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Summer 2009  Waterkeeper Magazine Powered By Docstoc
					              Clean Water • Celebrating 10 YearS • Citizen aCtion

WATERKEEPER                                                                    ®

              New York
              Heart of darkness
                  The Waterkeeper brand of hard-hitting enforcement
                   is changing the face of contaminated communities—
                            in New York and across the world.

                                                      Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Summer 2009    $5.95                         Born on the Hudson, A Global
                                                        Movement Now
                                                                page 6

                                         Bill McKibben on Fossil Fools
                                                             page 50
                                         We all need clean water to survive.
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Volume 5 Number 4, Summer 2009

                                         42                                                  30

India’s and China’s showdown in the Himalayas   The creek at the center of the world        Baja’s natural beauty vs. the beast of overdevelopment

in every issue                                  C o v e r F e at u r e
6 Letter from the President:
From Concord to Crotonville                     24 New York Harbor’s Heart
42 The Movement: Face-off                       of Darkness
for Water at the Top of the                     Hudson Riverkeeper is leading the fight to reclaim one of America’s most
World; Green Leap Forward?                      polluted waterways.

48 On the Water: The Terrible
Beauty of Industrial Scars                      28 Hope on the Half Shell
                                                NY/NJ Baykeeper’s oyster restoration project is turning the tide
50 Sounding Off:                                for New York’s legendary bivalve.
Bill McKibben Takes on
Fossil Fools
                                                30 Defending Paradise
                                                Baja California’s Waterkeepers are racing the clock to save one of
                                                the world’s last great natural places.

                                                46 Numbers Game
                                                “Last Call” to Action on Climate Change?

                                         48     n e w s a n d u p d at e s
                                                12 Global Polluter Caught by Yadkin River’s Cyber Sleuth
                                                18 The West/Rhode Riverkeeper Delivers!
                                                20 Autralia Waterkeeper Wins One for the Birds
                                                38 Finding Nature in the City

4	   Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                              
Letter from the President
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

From Concord to Crotonville
       his is a landmark year for Wa-          American Legion Hall that night because       from the Amazon to the Ganges.
       terkeeper Alliance—our 10th an-         the river’s abundant fisheries and the pu-       This June, Waterkeepers from around
       niversary. Ten years ago—in June        rity of the Hudson’s waters were being        the world are meeting in New York City
1999—some thirty-five Waterkeeper or-          robbed from them by large corporate pol-      to mark the successes of the last decade—
ganizations met on Peconic Bay in New          luters over whom they had no control.         but also to face squarely and soberly the
York to found Waterkeeper Alliance in             Betrayed by the government agencies        daunting work ahead.
order to better support each other and         that were supposed to protect them from          You can read about some of the challeng-
speak with a single, authoritative voice on    polluters, they decided the only way to       es with which Waterkeepers are grappling
local, national and international environ-     reclaim their river, their livelihoods and    in this issue—from Hudson Riverkeeper’s
mental issues.                                 the health of their communities was to        efforts to remediate decades of pollution
   But the Alliance’s story started more       confront the polluters for control of the     on what is arguably America’s most pollut-
than three decades earlier—in the village      Hudson. They resolved to track down and       ed waterway, Newtown Creek, a Hudson
of Crotonville, 30 miles north of New York     prosecute every polluter on the Hudson        tributary—to the work of the Baja Cali-
City on the east bank of the Hudson River.     and enforce the laws that the government      fornia Waterkeepers to stand up for their
   Crotonville may not look like the kind      was failing to enforce.                       treasured communities and way of life us-
of community that would spark a revolu-           In the ensuing years, their new organi-    ing the methods pioneered by Crotonville’s
tion. But on a raw, windy March evening        zation grappled with the nation’s biggest     residents almost a half century ago.
in 1966, 300 people gathered in the vil-       industrial corporations, brought hun-            If there is a single lesson to be drawn
lage’s American Legion Hall to create the      dreds of polluters to justice, and forced     from the Waterkeeper movement’s long
Hudson River Fishermen’s Association—          them to spend hundreds of millions of         experience, it is that the destruction of
the forerunner of Hudson Riverkeeper,          dollars restoring the Hudson to health.       the environment is always abetted by the
the first Waterkeeper organization.               The miraculous resurrection of the         erosion of democracy. And conversely,
   The people who met in that hall             Hudson inspired the creation of River-        the struggle for the environment, which is
weren’t radicals or militants. They were       keepers on waterways across North             now a global struggle, is bound inextrica-
factory workers, carpenters and electri-       America—each with a patrol boat, a full-      bly to the struggle for democracy.
cians. Many were combat veterans from          time paid Riverkeeper and attorneys pre-         That lesson is powerfully illustrated
World War II and Korea. Their patriotism       pared to litigate.                            today in Waterkeeper Alliance’s fist fight
was rooted in bedrock American values.            Today, Waterkeeper Alliance is a glob-     with King Coal, which has launched multi-
Half the people in Crotonville made at         al movement of nearly 200 Waterkeepers        million dollar propaganda campaigns to
least some of their living crabbing or fish-   who patrol and advocate for over 100,000      deceive Americans into believing the ca-
ing the Hudson River. The river’s bathing      miles of rivers, bays and other waterways     nard that coal is cheap and clean.
beaches and swimming and fishing holes         on six continents—from North America’s           Waterkeeper programs in Alabama,
were their backyard. They came to the          Great Lakes to Australia’s Yarra River, and   Alaska, Arizona, North Carolina, Okla-

6	   Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                       
homa, Pennsylvania, Utah, and West Vir-         placeable forests. Soon, they will have de-     American children born each year have
ginia have been fighting the coal industry      stroyed a landscape the size of Delaware.       been exposed to dangerous mercury lev-
for years. And this year, Waterkeeper Al-          It’s all illegal. You cannot dump rock,      els in their mother’s wombs. Ozone and
liance launched its first national anti-coal    debris and rubble into a waterway with-         particulates from coal plants contribute
campaign. “The Dirty Lie” campaign is           out a Clean Water Act permit. Environ-          to the death of thousands of Americans
intended to create broader awareness of         mental lawyer Joe Lovett sued the indus-        each year from respiratory disease and
the destructiveness of coal and force a         try and prevailed before a conservative         cause a million asthma attacks and a mil-
change in current national energy policy        federal judge in West Virginia, the late        lion lost work days.
that relies on this dirty, destructive, poi-
sonous fuel. Information on the campaign
is available at
    While coal-generated power may ap-
pear cheap on your electric bill, its true        The struggle for the environment, which
costs to our nation make it the most
catastrophically expensive method ever               is now a global struggle, is bound
devised for boiling a pot of water. Coal’s
hidden costs begin with its extraction.
                                                 inextricably to the struggle for democracy.
    If the American people could witness
the destruction I have seen in the coalfields
of Kentucky and West Virginia there would
be a revolution in this country. Mountain-      Charles Hayden. Hayden agreed that the              The government’s response is to ig-
top-removal mining is devastating south-        entire racket was unlawful and enjoined         nore these crimes. Captured regulatory
ern Appalachia, tearing up mountains,           all mountaintop mining.                         agencies shield the coal barons from en-
burying streams, flattening forests, and            After that judicial decision, Peabody       forcement of environmental and public
extinguishing the region’s rich culture.        Coal and Massey Energy, two of the na-          health laws while toadying politicians in
    In 1968, my father, then fighting strip     tion’s biggest coal companies, met with         thrall to their King Coal paymasters pass
mining in Appalachia, told me that the          Bush administration officials who oblig-        laws to insulate this filthy industry from
coal companies were not just destroying         ingly overturned thirty years of statutory      private litigation. Adding insult to injury,
the environment, they were permanently          interpretation by changing the meaning          the federal and state governments provide
impoverishing local communities. “There         of one word of the Clean Water Act. Their       billions of dollars in annual subsidies and
is no way to generate an economy from           new definition of the word “fill” effectively   pollution waivers to coal moguls already
the moonscapes they leave behind,” he           overruled Judge Hayden’s decision, mak-         rolling in cash. Those subsidies allow the
said. “They’re doing it so that they can        ing it legal to dump rock, rubble, con-         coal companies to multiply their crimes
break the unions.” He was right. Back then,     struction debris, and other solid waste         against our generation and our children’s.
there were tens of thousands of miners in       into any American waterway without a                Waterkeeper Alliance’s unique grass-
West Virginia and unionized workers tak-        Clean Water Act permit. All they need           roots model gives us the ability to carry
ing coal out of underground mines were          today is a rubberstamp permit from the          our anti-coal campaign to hundreds of
the economic lifeblood of coalfield com-        Army Corps of Engineers.                        locales in a way no other group can. It is
munities. Today there are less than 6,000           Devastated mountains, ruined com-           a chance for millions of citizens to join
union miners left in the state. The coal        munities, and political corruption are the      the effort and help make sure our mes-
moguls are mining more coal than in 1968        legacies of coal mining in Appalachia—but       sage is heard in corporate boardrooms
but with far fewer workers due to mecha-        there are many other costs of coal. Carbon      and the halls of government that they
nization and increasing emphasis on sur-        dioxide pollution from coal plants is the       will be held accountable.
face mines. Then as now, the profits go to      primary cause of climate change, which              When Henry David Thoreau went to
the Wall Street bankers and out-of-state        threatens to destroy human civilization         prison in Concord, Massachusetts, for
corporate interests who would liquidate         and cause the death of hundreds of mil-         protesting the Mexican-American War,
West Virginia’s natural heritage for cash.      lions of people. Acid rain from coal plants     his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson called to
    Detonating explosives equivalent to a       has sterilized one-fifth of the lakes in the    him through the barred prison window,
Hiroshima bomb weekly, the coal barons          Adirondacks and degraded Appalachian            “What are you doing in there, David?”
are blasting the tops off the mountains         forests from Georgia to Quebec. Mer-            Thoreau’s answer, “What are you doing
to access sub-surface coal seams. Giant         cury from coal plants has contaminated          out there, Ralph?”
machines—drag lines and dozers—then             100 percent of the waterways in 19 states           From Concord to Crotonville to the
scrape the rubble and debris into the adja-     and contaminated fish in all 50 states. Ac-     coalfields of Appalachia, citizens who
cent valleys, filling the hollows, and level-   cording to the EPA, one of six American         understand that democracy and the en-
ing the landscapes. They’ve already buried      women now has toxic levels of mercury in        vironment are intertwined are standing
1,200 miles of streams, decapitated nearly      their bodies that threaten their children       up to speak truth to power and protect
500 mountains, and flattened hundreds of        with a grim inventory of disease includ-        their communities, their democracy and
thousands of acres of Appalachia’s irre-        ing mental retardation. Some 640,000            their environment. n	                                                                                      Summer	2009	Waterkeeper Magazine		   7
                                                                                                                 WAT ERK EEPER

                                              ON THe COVeR                                                             M         A        G         A         Z         I       N         E
                                                Hudson Riverkeeper’s work on
                                               Newtown Creek exemplifies how
                                                the Waterkeeper brand of hard-
                                              hitting environmental enforcement
                                                is changing the environmental                                          50 S. Buckhout St., Ste. 302, Irvington, NY 10533
                                                    and political landscape of                                          
                                                contaminated communities–in                                             The official magazine of Waterkeeper Alliance
                                                New York and across the world.
                                                                                                          Mission: Waterkeeper Alliance connects and supports local Waterkeeper
                                                                                                          programs to provide a voice for waterways and communities worldwide.
                                                                                                         Tom Quinn editor                                  switch studio Art Direction
     Globally, the paper industry is the single                                                          Giles Ashford Photographer                        Chaidi Lobato Designer
                                                                                                         Rick Dove Photographer
     largest industrial consumer of water and the
                                                                                                         Board of Directors
     third greatest emitter of greenhouse gases.                                                         Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.                           Dean Naujoks
                                                                                                         chairman                                         yADkin RiVeRkeePeR
                                                                                                         Terry Backer                                     Cheryl Nenn
     Getting the Paper Right!                                                                            Vice chairman, sounDkeePeR, inC.                 MiLWAukee RiVeRkeePeR
     Waterkeeper magazine is printed on 100% post-consumer                                               Deb Self                                         Pete Nichols
                                                                                                         Treasurer, sAn FRAnCisCo BAykeePeR               HuMBoLDT BAykeePeR
     recycled paper generated with wind power. We hope that other
                                                                                                         Karl Koplan                                      Joe Payne
     publications will join us in committing to protect our environment                                  secreTarY, PACe uniVeRsiTy                       CAsCo BAykeePeR
     and building the market for environmentally sustainable products.                                   enViRonMenTAL LiTiGATion CLiniC                  Bruce Reznik
                                                                                                         erick Bozzi                                      sAn DieGo CoAsTkeePeR
     The environmental savings from this switch are enormous:                                            CARTAGenA BAykeePeR BoARD                        Fred Tutman
                                                                                                         Casi Callaway                                    PATuXenT RiVeRkeePeR
                                                                                                         MoBiLe BAykeePeR                                 Andy Willner
                1,074 trees preserved for the future                                                     Donna Lisenby                                    ny/nJ BAykeePeR eMeRiTus
                                                                                                         uPPeR WATAuGA RiVeRkeePeR                        Richard J. Dove
                3,108 lbs. waterborne waste not created                                                  Alex Matthiessen                                 HonoRARy MeMBeR
                                                                                                         RiVeRkeePeR, inC.                                Murray Fisher
                                                                                                         Mark Mattson                                     HonoRARy MeMBeR
                457,490 gallons wastewater flow saved                                                    LAke onTARio WATeRkeePeR                         Steve Fleischli
                                                                                                                                                          HonoRARy MeMBeR
                50,607 lbs. solid waste not generated
                                                                                                         Board of Trustees
                99,668 lbs. net greenhouse gases prevented                                               Glenn R. Rink, Chair            Charles Dorego                     Paul Polizzotto
                                                                                                         Gordon Brown,                   F. Daniel Gabel, Jr.               Gloria Reuben
                762,892,000 BTUs energy not consumed                                                     Vice Chair                      Tom Gegax                          Laura & Rutherford
                                                                                                         Wendy Abrams                    Margaret A. Hecht                  Seydel
                                                                                                         Jeffrey R. Anderson             A. Judson Hill                     Terry Tamminen
     Savings from the use of emission-free wind-generated electricity:                                   Michael Budman                                                     Jami & Klaus von
                                                                                                                                         Katharine Kendrick
                                                                                                         Ann Colley                                                         Heidegger
                                                                                                                                         Karen Lehner
                51,782 lbs. air emissions not generated                                                  James Curleigh                                                     William B. Wachtel
                                                                                                                                         Karen Percy Lowe &
                                                                                                         John Paul DeJoria               Kevin Lowe                         Daniel Waldman
                23 barrels crude oil unused
     In other words, savings from the use of wind-generated electricity                                  Kristine Stratton                                Allie Klein
                                                                                                         eXeCuTiVe DiReCToR                               CAMPAiGn AssisTAnT
     are equivalent to:                                                                                  Tracy Calvan                                     Michele Merkel
                                                                                                         DeVeLoPMenT MAnAGeR - GRAnTs                     CHesAPeAke ReGionAL CooRDinAToR
                not driving 10,450 miles                                                                 Hannah Connor                                    Jeffrey Odefey
                                                                                                         sTAFF ATToRney                                   sTAFF ATToRney
                OR                                                                                       Rachel Cook                                      Francisco Ollervides
                planting 1,377 trees                                                                     DeVeLoPMenT & oPeRATions                         senioR FieLD CooRDinAToR
                                                                                                         CooRDinAToR                                      Mary Beth Postman
                                                                                                         Liane Curtis                                     AssisTAnT To THe CHAiRMAn
                                                                                                         sTAFF ATToRney                                   Janelle Hope Robbins
            Waterkeeper is printed on FSC-certified Mohawk Options 100%                                  Nancy J. DeNatale .                              sTAFF sCienTisT
            post-consumer recycled paper which is manufactured with                                      DeVeLoPMenT DiReCToR                             Shannon Ross
            Green-e certified wind electricity. This paper is certified by Green                         Scott edwards                                    sTAFF ACCounTAnT
                                                                                                         LeGAL DiReCToR                                   Tom Quinn
            Seal and by Smartwood for FSC standards which promote                                        emily egginton                                   CoMMuniCATions DiReCToR
            environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically                            FieLD CooRDinAToR                                Stephanie von Stein
            viable management of the world’s forests.                                                    erin Fitzgerald                                  AsiA PRoGRAM CooRDinAToR
                                                                                                         DeVeLoMenT MAnAGeR - eVenTs                      Marc Yaggi
                                                                                                         Jillian Gladstone                                DiReCToR oF WATeRkeePeR suPPoRT
           Waterkeeper and Mohawk paper are proud to announce that using                                 ADVoCACy & ouTReACH CooRDinAToR
 Co      2
           wind power and offsets we have achieved carbon neutral paper

© 2009 Waterkeeper Alliance. Reproduction of editorial content only is authorized with appropriate credit and acknowledgement. Basinkeeper, Beachkeeper, Channelkeeper, Creekkeeper, Lakekeeper,
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Waterkeeper is printed on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified Mohawk Options 100% post-consumer recycled paper which is manufactured with wind electricity.
Printed in USA • Peake DeLancey Printers, LLC

8	     Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                                                                                
                                    When it comes to adventure,
                                  we take a conservative approach.
                                                                                                           Photo: Ben Horton - Teva

                    For 40 years O.A.R.S. has worked tirelessly to help   We are proud supporters of Waterkeeper Alliance
                    preserve the great waterways of the world.            and their efforts to champion clean water and
                                                                          strong communities worldwide.
                    Since 1969, in partnership with our guests, we have
                    contributed more than $3 million in donations and     So, while our passion for adventure often goes to
                    fees toward the preservation of the environment       the extreme, it is our commitment to environmental
                    and to global conservation initiatives.               conservation that guides us.
Defining adventure
   since 1969         Discover for yourself the unforgettable nature of an O.A.R.S. adventure at
Who is
Waterkeeper Alliance?
                                                                                                           Prem Pushwinder, upper Betwa Riverkeeper in
                                                                                                           northern india, is working hard to revive traditional
                                                                                                           water harvesting systems that for centuries
                                                                                                           protected india’s farmers from the cycle of drought
                                                                                                           and flooding that is plaguing them today.

                                                                                                            Waterkeeper Alliance is a powerful worldwide
                                                                                                            coalition of nearly 200 local Waterkeepers
                                                                                                            groups—Riverkeeper, Baykeeper, Coastkeeper and
                                                                                                                other grassroots Waterkeeper organizations—
                                                                                                                    connected into a unified international
                                                                                                                        force for environmental protection.

                                                Prem Pushwinder,
                                                Upper Betwa Riverkeeper

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10	   Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                                                        
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                                                                                            Alcoa closed its Badin plant in 2002
                                                                                              but left behind a toxic legacy in the
                                                                                            land and water at Badin Lake, which
                                                                                                       feeds into the Yadkin River.

        yadkin Riverkeeper Map exposes
        Alcoa as a Global Polluter
                                           W      hen Alcoa, the giant aluminum producer, filed a request with the Federal
                                                  energy Regulatory Commission (FeRC) to renew a 50-year operating license
                                           for four hydroelectric dams along the Yadkin River that powered its smelting plant
                                           in Badin, the company was confident North Carolina would issue the required
                                           permit — even though Alcoa closed the Badin facility in 2002. Since the plant
                                           closure, Alcoa has been selling the power on the open market, generating about
                                           $44 million a year.
                                              Yadkin Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks had other ideas. Along with local business
                                           leaders and elected officials, he opposed the request, which failed to address
                                           numerous pollution problems linked to the Alcoa plant. For decades, Alcoa’s
                                           operations were responsible for the discharge of cyanide, fluoride, PCBs, solvents,
                                           metals, hydrocarbons, benzene, naphthalene and methane. Additionally, algae
                                           problems and low dissolved oxygen levels linked to their hydroelectric power
                                           operations had also been disregarded.
                                              Throughout the relicensing process, Alcoa argued that the contamination
                                           issues should be separated from its relicensing effort, claiming the company had
                                           an “outstanding reputation locally, nationally and globally for its commitment to
                                           protecting the environment.” Naujoks decided to do some research of his own.

 12	   Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors,
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~Native American Proverb

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                                   The AlcoA WoRldWide PolluTion MAP



                    UNITED STATES
    NORTH                                       NORTH
    PACIFIC                                     ATLANTIC
    OCEAN                                       OCEAN

                                                                                                                                                       Dean Naujoks and
                                                                                                                                                      his daughter, Krista

                                                                                                      KATHY NAUJOKS
                                                           ATLANTIC                                                                                 Denali Naujoks, along
                                                           OCEAN                                                                                         the Yadkin River.
                                                                                AUSTRALIA                                                                     AUSTRALIA
                                                                                                                      Yadkin Riverkeeper Recognized
                                                                                                                      for Longtime Commitment to
                                                                                                                      North Carolina Rivers
                                                                                                                      Yadkin Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks has been
                                                                                                                      selected for River Network’s 2009 National
                                                                                                                      River Hero Award. River Network coordinates
              He discovered a troubling worldwide pattern regarding Alcoa’s global operations                         the annual National River Heroes Award to
              and its spotty record addressing pollution issues. Alcoa, Naujoks discovered, had                       celebrate rivers and recognize the individuals
              been cited and/or fined millions of dollars for environmental damages on nearly                         who provide leadership, protect rivers and
              every continent.                                                                                        foster the growth and sustainability of
                  Working with a communications firm in Raleigh, he created an interactive                            watershed communities.
              Google map detailing the environmental and community damage Alcoa has                                      Since the fall of 2008, Naujoks has managed
              caused worldwide. Users can highlight affected communities to learn more about                          and implemented river advocacy programs for
              Alcoa’s impact and response.                                                                            the Yadkin Pee Dee River watershed, a 7,221
                  In spite of the Yadkin Riverkeeper’s efforts, North Carolina’s Division of Water                    square-mile area in western North Carolina.
              Quality issued Alcoa’s 401 water quality permit, surprising not only Naujoks but                        A longtime water quality advocate, Naujoks
              N.C. Governor Bev Perdue. Perdue has filed a motion for the state to intervene in                       became the first Upper Neuse Riverkeeper in
                                                                                                                      2001. Prior to that he worked for the North
              the FERC process to allow the state to “recapture” the license, stating, “The waters
                                                                                                                      Carolina Wildlife Federation, and was also
              of the Yadkin River belong to the people of North Carolina.”
                                                                                                                      appointed by the mayor of Raleigh, Charles
                  Since the 1920 Federal Power Act was created, FERC has never denied issuing
                                                                                                                      Meeker, to serve on the joint government PCB
              a permit to a private corporation, or invoked the recapture clause to return public
                                                                                                                      Task Force to address PCB contamination in
              trust waters to citizens. But it could happen on the Yadkin River. Yadkin Riverkeeper
                                                                                                                      Crabtree Creek, a tributary of the Neuse River,
              and interested parties have filed a motion to contest the 401 permit and received
                                                                                                                      in Wake County. A graduate of North Carolina
              an injunction to prevent the permit from being issued. Yadkin RIverkeeper has also
                                                                                                                      State University, Dean created his own major
              worked with N.C. lawmakers to draft legislation which would return the waters of
                                                                                                                      in environmental policy and sustainable
              the Yadkin River to the state, use hydropower profits for water quality improve-
              ments, and require Alcoa to clean up their toxic mess in a 10-year time frame.
                                                                                                                         The awards ceremony is held in conjunction
                  “Alcoa misled and damaged communities across the globe,” Naujoks said. “We                          with the River Network’s annual National River
              felt it was unacceptable for Alcoa to claim to be a global environmental steward.                       Rally. Since 2001, 28 outstanding individuals
              This map exposes the truth for the world to see–the toxic legacy Alcoa has left                         have been honored as National River Heroes.
              behind virtually everywhere they’ve operated.”                                                          Dean received his award at the River Rally, held
                  The Alcoa Worldwide Pollution Map can be viewed at:                                                 in Baltimore on June 1.

              14	   Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                                         
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   Petitcodiac                      Charleston Waterkeeper’s First Cleanup a success
                                    B    roken beer bottles, twisted fish-
                                         ing line, plastic bags—picking
                                    up civilization’s callously discarded
                                                                             of severe weather (which did arrive
                                                                             late in the afternoon), 150 volun-
                                                                             teers showed up to pick up trash
   Anniversary                      detritus is all in a day’s work for      along the “edge of America,” as

   P    etitcodiac
   celebrated its
                                    the new Charleston Waterkeeper,
                                    Cyrus Buffum, and his eager team
                                    of volunteers. Their inaugural
                                                                             Folly Beach is affectionately known.
                                                                                 Over a three-hour period,
                                                                             volunteers collected well over 4,000
   tenth anniversary                cleanup—at Folly Beach, a barrier        pieces of trash, and 265 cans and
   this year. Since                 island located 15 minutes from           bottles were separated for recy-
   its launch on                    downtown Charleston, S.C.—was a          cling. Participants were encouraged
   February 18, 1999,               clear success and also something         to keep a tally of the types of refuse
   the organization                 of a first for Waterkeepers—thanks       they collected. Items ranged from
   has been the                     to a chart developed by Buffum           the worst culprit — cigarette ends
   leading advocate                 that inventoried the types of trash      — to what might be considered the
   for protection and               collected. Charleston Waterkeeper        strangest item of the day—a Barbie
                                                                                                                        150 Volunteers gathered to clean up Folly
   restoration of the               and Starbucks Coffee joined forces       doll leg. The chart below shows the        Beach. Over 4,000 pieces of trash were
   Petitcodiac and                  for the cleanup. Despite the threat      top 11 items collected.                    collected and properly disposed of.
   Memramcook River
       Over the past                                                                           2009 CHARLesTon WATeRkeePeR/sTARBuCks
   decade, Petitcodiac                                                                                  FoLLy BeACH CLeAnuP
   Riverkeeper has
   engaged in many                                                                                           Cigarettes / Cigarette     Cups, Plates, Forks,
   issues affecting                                                                                          Filters                    Knives, Spoons
   the health of the                                                                                         Straws, Stirrers           Cigar Tips
   river system,                                                                                             Caps, Lids                 Plastic Bags
                                                                                                             Food Wrappers /            Beverage Bottles (Plastic)
   most notably in
                                                                                                             Containers                 2 Liters Or Less
   advocating for
                                                                                                             Beverage Cans              Styrofoam (Chunks, Pieces,
   the removal of                                                                                            Glass Beverage Bottles     Peanut Shells, Etc.)
   the Petitcodiac
   causeway, and
   the restoration of
   fish passage in
   the river. While
                                      Patrol Boat Donated While Others Await Rescue
   the organization
   continues to closely               C     harleston Waterkeeper has received a very
                                            generous donation: a boat from local support-
                                      ers. The boat, a 1987 Starcraft, is now Charleston
                                                                                                  falls to the local municipalities. “As a result, an every-
                                                                                                  man-for-himself environment has been created,”
                                                                                                  said Buffum. Charleston Waterkeeper has created a
   follow the progress
   of that project, it is             Waterkeeper’s first official patrol boat, and is a          Google Map that displays the location of abandoned
   also taking action                 tremendous step forward for the organization.               boats throughout the city’s waterways. In keeping
   on other pollution                 Charleston Waterkeeper Cyrus Buffum said he was             with Waterkeeper’s tradition of grassroots activism,
   issues, including                  thrilled that he can now respond to citizen reports         the map is made up of information supplied not
   the state of the                   of pollution or suspicious activity. “The more access       by experts, but by the public. Within two days of its
   former Moncton                     we have, the more we can do to improve and protect          launch, nearly 30 abandoned boats had been identi-
   riverside landfill,                these natural resources,” Buffum said.                      fied and added to the map. “Mass collaboration
   sewage issues, and                     With his new-found patrol ability, Buffum has           changes everything,” said Buffum.
   pesticide usage.                   undertaken the task of tracking abandoned                       You can view the map at: http://
       “Petitcodiac                   boats. In collaboration with local photographer Olive
   Riverkeeper has                    Productions, Charleston Waterkeeper is preparing to
   changed the way                    launch a campaign targeting abandoned and derelict
   we think about                     boats throughout Charleston’s waterways.
   our rivers and we                      South Carolina has recently passed legislation
   will continue to                   banning the abandonment of watercraft. Abandoned
   push for a better                  boats not only pose a threat to the safety of recre-
   watershed,” said                   ational boaters, but are also environmental hazards,
   Tim Van Hinte,                     eyesores and economic burdens. However, while the
   Petticodiac                        statute is enforced by the Department of Natural Re-
   Riverkeeper.                       sources, the responsibility of removing these vessels

   16	   Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                                          
                        Everyone at
                       StormCon will.
                       StormCon is the world’s training ground for water
                       pollution prevention.

                       Help spread the word by sending StormCon
                       invitations at

                       Stormwater, The Journal for Surface Water
                       Quality Professionals is the premier publication
                       for those on the frontlines of water pollution
                       prevention and mitigation. To subscribe to this
                       complimentary journal, visit

August 16 – 20, 2009
  Anaheim Marriott
 Anaheim, CA, USA      Presented by Stormwater, the Official Journal of StormCon
{{{{{{ Ripples }}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}
                   The Widening Gyre: Fraser Riverkeeper earth Day Cleanup

                   T    he mighty Fraser River is the
                        longest river in British Columbia.
                                                                         of garbage and two tons of metal,
                                                                         including bicycles, household appli-
                   Its watershed is a vast ecological,                   ances, mattress springs, and other
                   cultural and economic treasure chest,                 recyclables.
                   which drains more than a quarter of                       This year, Fraser Riverkeeper,
                   the province before it empties into the               working with the city of Chilliwack and
                   Pacific Ocean, through Vancouver.                     other friends of the river, including
                       On April 19, Fraser Riverkeeper                   British Columbia’s Minister of the
                   hosted its second annual earth Day                    environment, Barry Penner—and with
                   event: the cleanup of the Fraser River’s              more than double the number of last
                   Pegleg Bar, one of the river’s numer-                 year’s volunteers—pulled out 11 tons                           Milwaukee
                   ous gravel bars. Pegleg, and other                    of waste, including the remains of a                           Riverkeeper Cheryl
                   bars, provide important riparian zones                car and a washing machine.                                     Nenn in the
                                                                                                                                        Riverkeeper boat at

                                                                                                                       eMILY eGGINTON
                   for aquatic and terrestrial plants and                    In thanking everyone, Fraser River-
                                                                                                                                        the end of another
                   animals. During the late winter and                   keeper Doug Chapman spoke of mak-                              day on the water.
                   early spring, before the spring thaw                  ing a difference large and small—to the
                   begins, the gravel bars are exposed.                  river and to the planet. “The garbage                          Milwaukee Riverkeeper Named
                   After the thaw, the bars are largely sub-             you removed today will not be able                             2009 River Champion
                   merged and are prized as sport fishing                to disintegrate and affect the wildlife
                   hotspots. But people continue to dump
                   along the river and the refuse is trapped
                                                                         that inhabits the river. And the plastics
                                                                         won’t end up in the large plastic                              T    he River Alliance of Wisconsin has named
                                                                                                                                             Milwaukee Riverkeeper one of three River
                                                                                                                                        Champions for 2009. Milwaukee Riverkeeper,
                   along these bars.                                     ‘island’ in the North Pacific Gyre,” he
                       At last year’s earth Day cleanup,                 said, in reference to the area of the Pa-                      formerly Friends of Milwaukee’s Rivers, has
                   about 50 volunteers collected over                    cific twice the size of the United States                      been a staunch advocate for the health of the
                   four tons of waste material in the                    that has become a giant trash basin for                        Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic River
                   span of two hours: two-and-a-half tons                plastic waste.                                                 watersheds for the past 14 years.
                                                                                                                                            The River Alliance cited Milwaukee
                                                                                                                                        Riverkeeper’s work tracking pollution spills,
                                                                                                                                        monitoring water quality and championing
                                                                                                                                        Milwaukee’s rivers at the municipal, state
                                                                                                                                        and federal levels. One of Milwaukee
                                                                                                                                        Riverkeeper’s biggest victories was getting the
                                                                                                                                        Kinnickinnic River listed as one of the nation’s
                                                                                                                                        Most endangered Rivers. As a result of the

                                                                         FRASeR RIVeRKeePeR

                                                                                                                                        designation, a federal- and state-funded $22
                                                                                                                                        million cleanup project is removing 170,000
                                                                                                                                        cubic yards of sediment containing PCBs and
                                                                                                                                        PAHs from the river’s bottom.
                   British Columbia’s Fraser River is home to some of the world’s most important salmon runs.
                   Pegleg Bar provides easy access to the Fraser for recreational fishing but it has resulted in the                        A focus of Milwaukee Riverkeeper Cheryl
                   accumulation of various types of garbage—from aluminum cans to couches.                                              Nenn’s work has been advocating for improved
                                                                                                                                        sewage treatment. “Our sewage and drinking
                         Waterkeeper Family Album                                                                                       water systems may be less visible than our
                         CONGRATULATIONS!                                                                                               roads and railroads, but they are no less
                                                                                                                                        important,” said Nenn. “We’re facing a perfect
                         West/Rhode Riverkeeper Chris Trumbauer and his wife                                                            storm of sorts in this country: antiquated and
                         Mary are proud to announce the birth of their daughter                                                         failing sewage infrastructure under our cities,
                         Josephine eileen. Josephine was in such a hurry to come
                                                                                                                                        increased wastewater from a population that
                         into the world that she couldn’t wait to get to the birthing
                                                                                                                                        has doubled since the 1940s, discharges of
                         center. Proving once again that Riverkeepers are jacks-of-
                         all trades, Chris “delivered” her on the kitchen floor.                                                        raw sewage to our waterways that threaten our
                                                                                                                                        public health, and lack of funding and political
                                                   Vera Minina, Coordinator of ecological Programs for                                  will to deal with these problems.”
                                                 Russian WATeRKeePeRS, celebrated the birth of her                                          She has called for the creation of a
                                                 daughter, Vera Sofia M. Koreshkova, on December 2, 2008.                               Clean Water Trust Fund that would invest in
                                                 Вера Минина, Директор Екологических Програм                                            improving sewage infrastructure, developing
                                                 для Russian WATERKEEPERS родила дочку Софиа                                            new technologies and making sewer system
                                                 М. Корешкова 2 декабря 2008 года.                                                      upgrades and water quality protection a priority
                                                                                                                                        in federal and local budgets.

                   18	    Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                                                     
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                                A Win for the                                            santa Monica Baykeeper
                                                                                         Defeats LnG Project
                                Latham’s Snipe
                                in Australia                                             W      ith Santa Monica
                                                                                                Baykeeper leading
                                                                                         the charge, a coalition
                                                                                                                           keeper. “The project was
                                                                                                                           never welcome in Santa
                                                                                                                           Monica Bay, and this is
                                                                                         of local community                my version of a perfect

                                T    he Latham’s Snipe is a species of long-
                                     billed wader, and the subject of migratory
                                bird agreements among Australia, China
                                                                                         organizations, elected
                                                                                         officials and concerned
                                                                                         citizens successfully
                                                                                                                           ending, saying goodbye
                                                                                                                           and good riddance.”
                                                                                                                               Woodside’s proposed
                                and Japan. Over the past 30 to 40 years, 20              placed enough pressure            offshore location is 27           Jane Harman. “I’m
                                wetlands in and around Port Fairy, in western            on Woodside Natural               miles off the coast of            relieved that we will no
                                Victoria, have been drained, grazed, filled              Gas to spur the company           Southern California and in        longer have to worry
                                and built over, or converted into ornamental             to withdraw plans for             the vicinity of Los Angeles       about having a security
                                wetlands, driving the Snipe away. The Powling            a liquefied natural gas           International Airport             and environmental threat
                                Street Wetlands remain the only freshwater               (LNG) project.                    (LAX). The project would          in our backyard.”
                                wetlands in Port Fairy, offering refuge to the               “Woodside’s decision          have imported LNG (a                  “This is a victory for
                                Snipe. The Wetlands and surrounding area                 to stop trying to build           fossil fuel) on massive           renewable energy,” said
                                support the largest known concentration of               an LNG project off our            tankers to be transferred         Diane Moss, a local
                                Latham’s Snipe in Victoria, and possibly in all          coast is great news for           to underground pipelines          community activist
                                of Australia                                             the environment and for           at the site.                      and coalition member.
                                   South Beach Wetlandskeeper Don Stewart                all Los Angeles resi-                 “Having an off-shore          “Now we can focus on
                                challenged a proposed 43-lot subdivision near            dents,” said Tom Ford,            LNG project near LAX …            investing in a greener
                                the Powling Street Wetlands. The proposal                executive director of             was never a good idea,”           future without relying
                                was subsequently defeated in the Victoria Civil          Santa Monica Bay-                 said Congresswoman                solely on fossil fuels.”
                                and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), effectively
                                guaranteeing protection for this significant bird
                                population and its habitat.
                                   The Tribunal ordered that a permit not be
                                issued for the development, as there were
                                “significant environmental and physical issues
                                with the subdivision.” even the developer’s
                                environmental expert concurred that the land
                                proposed for subdivision was a critical habitat
                                for the Latham’s Snipe.
                                   “We are very pleased that VCAT has refused
                                the permit,” Stewart said. “The council now
                                has the opportunity to recognize this nationally
                                significant site and ensure it is properly
                                protected for the community.”

                                Don Stewart, South Beach Wetlandskeeper (third from
                                left), with members of his organization at the Powling
                                                                                         Importing natural gas is a lot more complex, expensive and dangerous than importing crude oil,
                                Street Wetlands, the last area in Port Fairy where the
                                                                                         because the gas must be chilled to minus 260 degrees and carried in specially built tankers under
                                Latham’s Snipe still thrives.
                                                                                         high pressure, then warmed again before it can be distributed.

   20	                            Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                                           
A Powerful Perspective to Inspire Lasting Stewardship

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                                                                 Coastkeeper Discovers Sewage Spill in Critical
         Riverkeeper Fund Drive no Hail-Mary Pass                Coastal Watershed
         L    ast August, Wayne Weaver and his wife, De-
              lores Barr Weaver, owners of the Jacksonville
         Jaguars National Football League team, issued a
                                                                 I  t was early in the afternoon when
                                                                    a call came in for Assateague
                                                                 Coastkeeper Kathy Phillips. An off-road
                                                                                                                 conducted proper inspections of the site,
                                                                                                                 as required by the law. Appropriate viola-
                                                                                                                 tions were issued by the MDe.
         challenge to the St. Johns Riverkeeper: They would      cyclist had passed through several boggy
         write a check for $150,000 to the Riverkeeper organi-   acres in a woodland near Ocean City,
         zation if the group could raise double that amount.     Maryland, that smelled suspiciously
             The $450,000 would help St. Johns Riverkeeper       like raw sewage.
         in their legal challenge against plans to remove            Phillips responded immediately,
         millions of gallons of water a day from the St.         knowing that the wooded area
         Johns River, located in Central Florida, and to raise   lay between a campground and
         awareness about the threats to the health of the        development, and the wastewater
         river, which was named one of the 10 most threat-       treatment plant that serviced them. She
         ened in the country by American Rivers.                 found a standpipe in the middle of the
             In spite of the tough economic times, the           soggy soil and within minutes of her
         fundraising effort was a success thanks to the          arrival, it released a rush of liquid, before
         support of school groups, garden clubs, business        pausing and repeating the performance.
         and civic organizations and residents of the St.            Suspecting the surge was indeed raw
         Johns River watershed. There were 800 separate          sewage, Phillips contacted the Worces-
         donations, ranging from $5 to $30,000. “This is         ter County public works department
         phenomenal,” Mrs. Weaver said during the check          and requested an immediate site visit.
         presentation ceremony at the Northbank River-           While waiting for someone to arrive, she
         walk, in Jacksonville, on March 17.                     scooped up samples for the lab.
             “We are so grateful and humbled by the                  When local authorities appeared on
         outpouring of support from the community,”              the scene, they were quick to reassure her
         said Neil Armingeon, St. Johns Riverkeeper. “The        that the pipe transported “nothing but ter-
         people of this community have sent a powerful           tiary-treated wastewater.” The engineer’s
         message that they won’t stand idly by and allow         opinion was that the overflow, probably
         harm to come to the St. Johns without a fight.”         due to a faulty valve, was a recent occur-
                                                                 rence. Then, as if on cue, a foamy liquid
                                                                 spewed from the pipe and flowed casually
                                                                 to the feet of the observers.
                                      N.J. LAW                       Subsequent lab reports confirmed
                                      For years, both
                                                                 off-the-chart readings for e. coli and fecal
                                      Hackensack Riverkeeper
                                                                 coliform bacteria. Phillips notified the
                                      and NY/NJ Baykeeper                                                        Assateague and its waters have received
                                                                 Maryland Department of environment
                                       relied heavily on                                                         designation as a World Biosphere Reserve by
                                                                 and a subsequent visit by an MDe in-            the U.N., but Assateague Coastkeeper Kathy
                                       the free legal exper-
                                                                 spector found the county had not main-          Phillips still spends a lot of her time patrolling
                                       tise offered by
                                                                 tained proper maintenance records or            for polluters—on the water and the land.
                                       Rutgers University’s
                                        environmental Law
                                        Clinic and the eastern     Got Milk?
                                        environmental Law          Patuxent Riverkeeper teamed up with the Natural Resources
                                        Center. Often this         Defense Council (NRDC) to eliminate the largest single
   NY/NJ Baykeeper Debbie                                          industrial nutrient source located on the Little Patuxent
   Mans (left) and Hackensack
                                   meant competing with
                                   similarly deserving cases       River, a tributary of the Patuxent. For over a decade, a dairy
   Riverkeeper Captain
   Bill Sheehan.                   from other environmental        processing plant, Virginia Dairy Producer’s Coop, has been
                                   organizations. Now, thanks      responsible for permit violations, operational deficiencies, and
                                                                   nutrient discharge problems that have plagued the Little Patuxent.
   to a grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation,
                                                                       Records from the Maryland Department of the environment revealed a
   the two groups have hired a full-time environmental
                                                                   pattern of violations and almost no enforcement by state regulators. Thanks to
   attorney whose services they are sharing — a first for
                                                                   a grant from the Keith Campbell Foundation, Patuxent Riverkeeper and NRDC
   two Waterkeeper organizations.
                                                                   attorneys initiated a series of legal overtures, negotiations and activism.
        In a letter notifying the two groups of the grant,         The dairy plant’s operators has had no choice but to clean up their act. The
   foundation President and CeO David Grant praised                plant will now discharge into the Little Patuxent wastewater treatment plant,
   their “ability to connect people to their environment”          bringing an end to its adverse effects on the river’s ecology. “Good business
   and their efforts “to make immediate our obligation to          is synonymous with sound environmental practice,” said Fred Tutman,
   one another and to the earth.”                                  Patuxent Riverkeeper.

   22	    Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                                          
                                                                                                     Girl scouts Protest:
       California Coastkeeper’s Crash Course on the                                                  CLeAn uP ouR CReek!
       Clean Water Act
                                                                                                     W       hen local authorities
                                                                                                             refused to take action to
       T    hirty-seven years after passage of the U.S. Clean Water Act promised
            fishable waterways and potable water, there are still many waters in which
       Californians can’t safely fish, swim or surf; fish can’t thrive and places where
                                                                                                     protect a popular creek, a troop
                                                                                                     of local girl scouts turned to
                                                                                                     French Broad Riverkeeper.
       the water is too polluted to drink without costly treatment.
                                                                                                         A now-defunct manufactur-
           The Clean Water Act requires states to review lists of their most polluted
                                                                                                     ing facility contaminated the
       waterways every two years and develop cleanup plans for each. That process is
                                                                                                     West Ashville Creek to the point
       now under way at California’s nine regional Water Quality Control Boards.
                                                                                                     that its waters tested positive for high levels of
           Because the polluted waters list is one of the most powerful tools that
                                                                                                     many volatile organic compounds, above every safe
       Californians have to clean up rivers, lakes and coastal waters, California Coast-
                                                                                                     level posted by the state and the ePA. After drawn
       keeper Alliance and its 12 member Waterkeepers are holding workshops to
                                                                                                     out talks between the North Carolina Brownfields
       inform citizens, communities and public interest groups how to get involved.
                                                                                                     Program, the Division of Water Quality, the City of
           Workshops in California’s North Coast region and in Orange County
                                                                                                     Asheville and the Buncombe County Health Depart-
       attracted recreational anglers and commercial fishermen, surfers, local
                                                                                                     ment, it was finally determined that the case would fall
       watershed councils, tribal representatives, interested citizens and even
                                                                                                     under the health department’s authority. However, the
       staff from state and regional water boards, some of which advertised the
                                                                                                     health department refused to post signs, claiming that
       workshops themselves.
                                                                                                     it needed more information.
           California Coastkeeper Alliance’s program coordinator, Tom Lyons, gave
                                                                                                         The scout troop decided to take matters in their
       a crash course on the Clean Water Act and, along with the local Waterkeeper,
                                                                                                     own hands and, with French Broad Riverkeeper’s help,
       led a lively dialogue around specific waterways and the local water board’s
                                                                                                     posted handmade warning signs along the creek.
       proposed list. “When people leave these workshops, they are fired up to
                                                                                                     “This creek has unsafe levels of toxic chemicals, and
       demand that their Regional Water Boards identify and swiftly clean up
                                                                                                     the girls wanted their neighbors to be warned about
       polluted waters and hold polluters responsible,” said Lyons.
                                                                                                     the possible danger,” said French Broad Riverkeeper
           In the coming weeks, California Coastkeeper Alliance and local
                                                                                                     Hartwell Carson. The signs warn that the stream isn’t
       Waterkeepers will expand clean water advocacy into California’s Central
                                                                                                     safe for swimming, and that the toxic waste from the
       Coast, the San Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles and San Diego.
                                                                                                     manufacturing site should be cleaned up. The scouts
           Learn more about California’s severely polluted waterways at:
                                                                                                     went a step further and wrote letters to their elected of-
                                                                                                     ficials urging them to take action and warn the public,
                                                                                                     as well as clean up their stream. In the words of one
                                          PoLLuTeD WATeRs oF CALiFoRniA                              nine-year-old activist, “It’s not fair to leave all that pol-
                                                                                                     lution in the creek.”
                                          The Clean Water Act requires states to list all water
                                          bodies that are polluted or "impaired" every two years.
                                          This map shows all water bodies in California listed         Street-to-Stream High School
                                          as impaired by the State Water Board in 2006. The
                                          next listing cycle started in 2008 and is expected to be
                                                                                                       Student Video Contest
                                          finalized in 2009.

                                               ReD INDICATeS POLLUTeD WATeR
                                                                                                       T   he subject of urban stormwater runoff isn’t the
                                                                                                           kind of topic that lights up most adolescents’
                                                                                                       eyes, but Tualatin Riverkeepers came up with a
                                                                                                       novel way to make more young people aware of
                                                                                                       the seriousness of the problem in the Tualatin
                                                                                                       River basin, which is west of Portland, Oregon. It
                                                                                                       hosted a video-making contest challenging high
                                                                                                       school students to produce a 24-second public
                                                                                                       service announcement raising awareness about
                                                                                                       the harmful effects of stormwater runoff. The
                                                                                                       grand prize of $500 was shared between Matthew
                                                                                                       Dan and his school, Capital Center H.S.
                                                                                                          The prize was donated by the Tualatin Basin
                                                                                                       Partners for Clean Water, a coalition of public
                                                                                                       agencies that raises awareness about the Tualatin
                                                                                                       River Watershed.
                                                                                                          Matthew Dan’s winning video, and other
                                                                                                       entries, can be viewed on YouTube:
                                                                                                       com/user/Street2Stream	                                                                                                   	Summer	2009	Waterkeeper Magazine		 23
new york Harbor’s
Heart of Darkness
Hudson Riverkeeper leads the cleanup of
long-neglected Newtown Creek
By Craig Michaels

Craig Michaels is the                     udson Riverkeeper’s former chief
Watershed Program Director                investigator, Basil Seggos, once described
at Hudson Riverkeeper.                    a patrol up Newtown Creek—a three-
                                 and-a-half mile-long estuarine tributary of the
                                 Hudson River that forms a border between
                                 Brooklyn and Queens—as an environmentalist’s
                                 journey into the heart of darkness. More
                                 than a century of rampant industrial use and
                                 environmental neglect have turned the creek into
                                 a toxic wasteland.
                                    Oil tank farms, coal gasification plants, solvent
                                 reprocessing facilities, copper smelting sites,
                                 cement companies and abandoned factories still
                                 blanket the shorelines. Newtown Creek is also on
                                 the receiving end of nearly three billion gallons
                                 of untreated raw sewage a year that flow from
                                 New York City’s combined sewer system, not to
                                 mention the liquid cement waste from several
                                 concrete plants operating hard by the gentrifying
                                 working-class neighborhoods of Brooklyn and
                                 Queens that surround the creek.
                                    Newtown Creek’s pollution problems first
                                 rumbled (literally) into public view nearly 60 years
                                 ago, when an underground oil tank explosion
                                 blew out a 10-foot section of pavement, shot
                                 25 manhole covers into the air, and shattered
                                 windowpanes on more than 500 surrounding
                                 buildings in the Greenpoint area of Brooklyn. But
                                 when the dust settled after the 1950 explosion, it
                                 was back to business as usual.                         gasoline, fuel oil and naphtha) had, over the
                                    There was little mention of the massive             decades, seeped into Newtown Creek and under
                                 explosion or the decades of petroleum spills and       more than 55 acres of surrounding industrial,
                                 leaks that preceded and followed it, until 1978,       commercial and residential land. While that would
                                 when U.S. Coast Guard personnel on aerial patrol       amount to a spill 50 percent larger than the Exxon
                                 observed an oil slick where Newtown Creek              Valdez’s in 1989, other estimates put the total at
                                 empties into the East River, roughly opposite          30 million gallons, a lake of oil almost three times
                                 Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan.                        the size of the Valdez spill.
                                    The oil spill that the Coast Guard patrol              ExxonMobil—the oil company with the
                                 discovered in Greenpoint and Newtown Creek             largest facilities along the creek—entered into
                                 turned out to be one of the largest known in           two consent agreements with the State of New
                                 North America. An estimated 17 million gallons         York in 1990. Akin to an out-of-court settlement,
                                 of petroleum (here, a mixture of degraded              the agreements required ExxonMobil to recover

24	   Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                          
“free product” floating on the surface of the         land zoned for mixed commercial and residential        In all likelihood, Newtown
water, but did not require a full remediation of      use is too toxic for redevelopment, and petroleum      Creek’s pollution has
                                                                                                             infiltrated the food chain
all contamination. While the spill continued to       product has settled under more than 100 homes          throughout New York Harbor.
be largely ignored, the environmental problems        on three residential blocks. The effect on aquatic
continued unabated.                                   life in Newtown Creek and around New York
    The list of pollutants identified at hazardous    Harbor has been severe, with pollution from
waste sites along the creek reads like the periodic   the creek flowing in and out with the tide, to be
table, including chemicals such as arsenic,           transported around New York Harbor, up the
benzene, toluene, xylene, cadmium, chromium,          Hudson River, out beyond the Verrazano Bridge
cyanide, lead, mercury and PCBs. The impacts          to the Atlantic, and across Hell’s Gate into Long
have been devastating. The local aquifer, which       Island Sound. In all likelihood, the contamination
was used regularly until 1949, has been rendered      from the creek has now infiltrated the food chain
unfit for human consumption. Fifty-five acres of      harbor-wide.	                                                                                Summer	2009	Waterkeeper Magazine		 25
                                                                                               Criminal Prosecutions
                                                                                               The underground plume of oil in Greenpoint is
                                                                                               just one of the toxic issues facing the communities
                                                                                               around Newtown Creek. State environmental offi-
                                                                                               cials have discovered a series of underground sol-
                                                                                               vent plumes, most likely the result of widespread
                                                                                               use of chemicals by metal finishing shops, dry
                                                                                               cleaners, and possibly by former petroleum refin-
                                                                                               eries. Due to harmful levels of air pollution rising
                                                                                               from the ground, dozens of homes and businesses
                                                                                               remain at risk.
                                                                                                   In 2002, Hudson Riverkeeper discovered that
                                                                                               a concrete company, Empire Transit Mix, was il-
                                                                                               legally dumping its wastewater into the creek, caus-
                                                                                               ing extensive white plumes with pH levels above
                                                                                               12. Riverkeeper reported this activity to state and
                                                                                               federal environmental officials and the F.B.I., and
                                                                                               in 2003 Riverkeeper and EPA officials conducted a
                                                                                               joint investigation of the site. Two years later, the
                                                                                               U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of
                                                                                               New York accepted a guilty plea from Empire Tran-
                                                                                               sit to criminal misdemeanor violations of the 1899
Hudson Riverkeeper patrol
                                                                                               Rivers and Harbors Act. That act—a navigational
boat captain John Lipscomb       Citizen Enforcement                                           law first used to prosecute polluters in the 1960s
on Newtown Creek.                The long history of pollution on Newtown Creek                by Riverkeeper’s predecessor organization, the
Riverkeeper’s enforcement        is enough to lead even the most dedicated environ-            Hudson River Fishermen’s Association—prohibits
mission remains in full force,
                                 mental advocate down the path to despair. This tale           the dumping of debris and pollutants into navigable
with routine aerial, water and
land-based patrols of the        of uncontrolled industrial pollution, lax government          waters. As part of the plea agreement, Empire
creek’s watershed.               oversight, and general political neglect is a story all too   Transit was fined $300,000, half of which was given
                                 familiar to the citizens and fishermen who endured            to Riverkeeper under the act’s bounty provision.
                                 decades of pollution on the Hudson and watched as                 In August 2008, a New York State appellate
                                 their beloved river was turned into little more than a        court reinstated more than 20 criminal charges
                                 dumping ground. But as the story of the Hudson’s rec-         brought by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s of-
                                 lamation continues to unfold, and as the Waterkeeper          fice against another concrete company and one of
                                 movement continues to grow, one message remains               its vice presidents. The defendants, Constantine
                                 clear: action is the antidote to despair.                     Quadrozzi and Quality Concrete of New York,
                                     In May 2004, Hudson Riverkeeper, along with sev-          had been indicted shortly after Riverkeeper filed
                                 eral local residents, filed a citizen suit in federal dis-    a Notice of Intent to sue the company under the
                                 trict court against ExxonMobil for violations of both         Clean Water Act. Based in part on the testimony
                                 the Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and             of Riverkeeper staff, a grand jury convened by the
                                 Recovery Act stemming from the petroleum con-                 D.A.’s office issued a 42-count indictment for crimi-
                                 tamination. That case is in the discovery phase, which        nal negligence and violations of the New York State
                                 is being handled by the staff and students of the Pace        Environmental Conservation Law. The trial court
                                 Environmental Litigation Clinic. Hudson Riverkeeper           dismissed the indictment, but the Appellate Divi-
                                 has had a longstanding partnership with the Pace              sion reversed the lower court’s ruling.
                                 clinic since its founding in 1987 by Riverkeeper’s                With what have now become routine aerial,
                                 Chief Prosecuting Attorney, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.            water and land-based patrols of the Newtown
                                     A nearly identical federal lawsuit against Exx-           Creek watershed, Riverkeeper’s enforcement mis-
                                 onMobil was filed in 2005 by Brooklyn Borough                 sion remains in full force. In September 2008,
                                 President Marty Markowitz and New York City                   Riverkeeper filed a Notice of Intent to Sue against
                                 Councilmembers David Yassky (Brooklyn) and                    NYCON, another concrete company, for illegally
                                 Eric Gioia (Queens). In 2005, two law firms filed             discharging cement waste directly into a New-
                                 separate mass tort suits in state court against Exx-          town Creek tributary without a Clean Water Act
                                 onMobil and other companies. More than 500 local              permit. Following Riverkeeper’s Notice letter, the
                                 residents are plaintiffs in those cases. In July 2007,        state Department of Environmental Conservation,
                                 New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo                  committed to stopping the pollution at its source,
                                 also filed a federal lawsuit against ExxonMobil on            initiated an administrative consent order against
                                 behalf of the State of New York.                              the company.

26	   Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                                  
A Chorus Line
Newtown-Creek style:
Cement mixers parked at
the creek’s edge.

Talk of Superfund                                        citizens’ groups and elected officials dedicated
As political pressure for a comprehensive cleanup        to protecting and restoring the creek. This
of Newtown Creek continues to build, all hands           group has worked tirelessly to hold polluters
are now on deck to ensure the best possible              accountable for the contamination they caused.
cleanup. In response to a formal request by              In March 2008, Riverkeeper, the Newtown Creek
United States Representatives Weiner, Velazquez,         Alliance and the Greenpoint Manufacturing and
Solis, and Green, the EPA agreed in August               Design Center—a nonprofit industrial developer
2008 to study contamination in and around                that rehabs buildings for occupancy by small            Riverkeeper’s
Newtown Creek. Over the next year, the EPA will          manufacturing enterprises, artisans and artists—        enforcement
examine existing information from continuing             received a $625,000 New York State Brownfields
environmental investigations of the creek and            Opportunity grant that will fund community-             actions have
determine whether the contamination warrants             driven planning and analysis of Newtown Creek           brought many
additional studying and sampling under CERCLA            and surrounding contaminated sites in Queens
(the Comprehensive Environmental Response,               and Brooklyn. Local environmental benefit
Compensation, and Liability Act), commonly               projects will also be funded by a $10 million           issues to light,
known as Superfund.                                      settlement reached last January by the City of New
   Newtown Creek isn’t the only New York City wa-        York and the state Department of Environmental
                                                                                                                 but no one
ter body on EPA’s radar right now. Brooklyn’s Gow-       Conservation to resolve past violations by the          knows the toll
anus Canal is also being considered for listing on the
Superfund National Priorities List. Like Newtown
                                                         city’s Newtown Creek sewage treatment plant.
                                                             Hudson Riverkeeper’s work on Newtown
                                                                                                                 that pollution
Creek, the Gowanus has suffered more than a cen-         Creek exemplifies how the Waterkeeper brand             has taken
tury of neglect, with manufactured gas plants and        of hard-hitting environmental enforcement can           better than the
sewer overflows serving as the main culprit.             completely change the environmental and political
                                                         landscape of a contaminated community. Thanks           residents of
The Newtown Creek Alliance                               to years of investigation and litigation that helped    Greenpoint,
While Riverkeeper’s enforcement actions have             uncover a previously hidden environmental
brought many pollution issues to light, no one           disaster, Newtown Creek is now getting the              Brooklyn.
knows the toll that pollution has taken better           attention it deserves, and local residents are
than the residents of Greenpoint, Brooklyn.              well positioned to accept nothing less than a full
Back in 2003, Hudson Riverkeeper and New                 and comprehensive cleanup of what should be a
York City Councilman David Yassky co-founded             swimmable and fishable waterway in the heart of
the Newtown Creek Alliance, a collection of              one of the greatest cities in the world.	                                                                                    Summer	2009	Waterkeeper Magazine		 27
             Hope on the Half shell
              ny/nJ Baykeeper’s oyster restoration project is
              turning the tide for new york’s legendary bivalve.
              By Andrew Willner with
              Meredith Comi

                                             hen Henry Hudson and his crew first              Keyport, N.J., alone supported a 400-boat oyster
Andrew Willner is the
                                             entered the sheltered waters of present-         fleet, while other fleets sailed from Perth Amboy and
New York/New Jersey
Baykeeper emeritus                           day New York and New Jersey, they found          Staten Island. Oysters were so plentiful they were
                                 35 square miles of oyster beds. But by the end of            considered poor people’s food, though the harbor’s
Meredith Comi is the
                                 the 20th century, the oyster had all but disappeared.        oysters also graced the tables of the finest gourmet
New York/New Jersey
Baykeeper’s Oyster               In 1997, I was out on a boat in the Navesink River,          restaurants in New York, Paris and London. But in
Project Director                 near Red Bank, New Jersey, with Ben Longstreth (at           the 20th century, overharvesting, siltation and pol-
                                 the time a new hire, and now the president of New            lution drove this vital resource to virtual extinction.
                                 York/New Jersey Baykeeper’s board), when I looked            The oysters remaining were so virus- and toxin-
                                 at the chart and realized that we were off Oyster            ridden that in 1924 the state banned all oystering in
                                 Point. I offhandedly remarked, “Wouldn’t it be great         New York Harbor. The great oyster reefs and clear
                                 to have oysters back at Oyster Point?” But, as the           filtered waters were gone, replaced by the murky
                                 NY/NJ Baykeeper, I was all too familiar with the sad         depths of a muddy-bottomed bay.
                                 history of the oyster’s demise in these waters; my
                                 comment seemed like little more than a pipe dream.           A Great Dream: The Return of the Oyster
                                     From the 17th to the 19th centuries, oysters virtu-      Pollution control measures introduced since the
                                 ally paved the shallows of the harbor. Oyster reefs          1970’s were the first step toward recovery. In
                                 once covered huge swaths of sea bottom from Sandy            1997—after NY/NJ Baykeeper declared that the res-
                                 Hook, N.J., north as far as Ossining, N.Y., and thrived      toration of shellfish would be its Number One goal—
                                 in Upper and Lower New York Bays, Jamaica Bay,               Baykeeper volunteers put out small bags of oysters
                                 Raritan Bay, the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers, the         at 15 locations around the estuary. To everyone’s
                                 Arthur Kill and Newark Bay. Like the world’s coral           surprise and delight, oysters grew well almost every-
                                 reefs, the bays’ oyster reefs played a central role in the   where. Ramping up its efforts, in 1999 Baykeeper cre-
                                 web of life, providing critical habitat for more than        ated an artificial oyster reef off Liberty Island (which,
                                 a hundred species of marine organisms, including             along with Ellis Island, was known to the Dutch
                                 commercially and recreationally important fish such          as the Oester, or Oyster, Islands). The dumping of
                                 as striped bass. Oysters also functioned as the bays’        10,000 bushels of shell by a New York City fireboat
                                 kidneys, filtering millions of gallons of water per day.     earned enthusiastic TV and newspaper coverage and
                                 (A single adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of        raised hope for the future of the harbor.
                                 water a day.)                                                    Since 2000, volunteer oyster gardeners have
                                     The harbor’s oyster production was prodigious.           grown oysters at 25 sites. Baykeeper provides every

28	   Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                                    
gardener with 1,000 seed oysters, each about the size           The Oyster Restoration Program’s progress thus
of a thumbnail. They are placed into a net that floats      far paves the way for more ambitious goals. For
in the upper part of the water column, allowing the         oyster restoration to be successful, ultimately the
oysters constant infusions of water and food. Every         reefs must be self-propagating. It took 150 years
month the oysters are measured to track growth and          to destroy the estuary’s oyster population; we can’t
mortality. After a year of tending their gardens, the       expect significant progress in a few years. But news
volunteers return their nearly mature oysters to Bay-       that oysters placed on the Navesink reef in 2005
keeper to be planted at an oyster reef site.                are naturally reproducing shows that we are on the
     At Keyport Harbor on New Jersey’s Raritan              right track. What’s required now is a well-funded,
Bay, 10,000 bushels of crushed clam and oyster shell        public-works-scale pilot project to demonstrate the
were laid down to build a half-acre oyster reef, where      feasibility of oyster restoration as a means of driving
oyster gardeners planted thousands of live oysters.         estuary-wide habitat restoration.
    The oyster-rearing technique called “remote                Throughout the harbor, oyster restoration could
setting” kicked the Baykeeper oyster restoration            be the answer to over-nutrification and erosion
program into high gear in 2002. Remote setting              problems. Building major oyster reefs on the wind-
entails placing millions of oyster larvae, called “spat,”   ward side of the bays’ salt marshes would have huge
together with mesh bags containing shell in a tank          benefits for the estuary. Waves would break on the
filled with filtered seawater heated to 80 degrees.         reefs instead of on the marshes, halting runaway
The spat attach to the shells and grow. When ready,         erosion, increasing sediment deposit, and reducing
they are transported to an oyster reef for planting.        the depth and slope of the shoreline. Newly planted
Started in a classroom at the Marine Academy of             oysters would reduce nuisance algae blooms and
Science and Technology (a Monmouth County, N.J.,            increase water clarity, creating ideal sub-tidal condi-
high school), our center for oyster rearing now has         tions for eelgrass (long absent from turbid bay wa-
its own aquaculture facility under Moby’s Restau-           ters) and an excellent fish habitat. We have to think
rant in Highlands, N.J.                                     not in terms of a few pallet loads of shells, but of
    Good oyster growth and survival rates at the            huge barges and hundreds of acres of oysters.
Keyport reef led to the establishment, with the New            A project of this size would require major re-
Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s ap-         sources and a well-coordinated effort among gov-
proval, of a second oyster reef, on the Navesink River      ernment agencies and nonprofit groups. The task is
at Oyster Point, in Red Bank, in 2003. Just six years       daunting, but Baykeeper has overcome every ob-
after my off-handed comment to Ben Longstreth,              stacle—not least, the water-quality agencies’ objec-
dedicated Baykeeper staff members and thousands of          tions that oysters in polluted waters would attract
volunteers had turned that notion into a reality. Since     poachers, endangering human health. By obtaining
then, oyster-reef building and planting events on the       permits to plant oysters and successfully doing so,
Navesink have become annual Baykeeper summer                Baykeeper has obligated those agencies to enforce          Once oyster larvae have
celebrations of the estuary and of community.               the Water Pollution Control Act’s mandates to up-          “set” on a shell and grown
    NY/NJ Baykeeper is also expanding New York              grade the quality of these now-fishable waters. No         for about two months, they
City oyster gardening and, partnering with the Har-         matter what happens next, change is in the air—and         are ready for release onto
                                                                                                                       newly established oyster beds
bor School (a New York City public high school)             water. The tide has turned in the harbor’s favor.          around the region.
and the River Project, hopes to get a reef built in
New York waters. Vindicating Baykeeper’s vision
and hard work, the New York State Department of
Environmental Conservation, the New York City
Department of Environmental Protection, the Port
Authority, the Corps of Engineers, and the Hudson
River Foundation have issued an action agenda that
includes oyster restoration.

Oyster Restoration Tomorrow
Baykeeper’s oyster education program reaches
thousands of children and adults across the harbor
region through classroom lectures, hands-on activi-
ties and tabling events, changing perceptions of our
estuary. By the end of one presentation, for example,
a fifth-grader who had said he would never stick his
fingers in the Hudson River, because the pollution
would make them fall off, was in the water measur-
ing oysters. Students and teachers come away with
increased awareness of and respect for the marine
ecosystem that surrounds them.	                                                                                          Summer	2009	Waterkeeper Magazine		 29
                     Defending Paradise
                       Baja California’s Waterkeepers are racing the clock to save
                       one of the world’s last great natural places.
                       By Anna Gouznova and Francisco ollervides

                                                                                                                                     Cabo San Lucas, at Baja’s
                                                                                                                                      southern tip, has quickly

                                                                                                                                      become one of Mexico’s
                                                                                                                                  premier tourist destinations.

            Anna Gouznova, former
                                                   or Julio Solis, letting Magdalena Bay die is     Puerto San Carlos, nearly 70 percent of the 13,000
            assistant editor at                    not an option. “This is my home,” he says,       residents depend directly or indirectly on fishing
            Waterkeeper magazine,                  explaining why he joined Waterkeeper             for their livelihood. But the bay, overexploited by
            is a freelance writer and        Alliance as the Magdalena Baykeeper four years         a rapidly increasing population and under stress
                                             ago to fight for this magnificent bay on the Pacific   from many types of pollution, has yet to receive any
            Francisco Ollervides is
                                             coast of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. “I have   legal protection or funding for conservation and
            Waterkeeper Alliance’s senior    to think about the future, not just for me, but for    resource management.
            field coordinator and one        my son, and his sons. Bahia Magdalena is not just         Magdalena Bay is just one of Baja California’s
            of the founders of the Baja      our source of food, it’s also our source of joy. We    treasured places that are endangered. About 750
            Waterkeeper movement.
                                             owe it to her and to ourselves to ensure that this     miles long and with more than 2,200 miles of
                                             beauty and plenty survives.”                           coastline, the Baja peninsula is the second largest in
                                                When he was a boy, Solis would go out with          the world, exceeded only by the Malay in Southeast
                                             his grandfather to fish for shrimp with a net called   Asia. To the east lies the Sea of Cortez, also known
                                             an atarralla. “We used to catch up to 150 or           as the Gulf of California, a body of water so rich
                                             200 kilograms of shrimp,” he recalls. “We would        with life that Jacques Cousteau dubbed it “the
                                             go to the beach and fill up entire sacks by hand.      world’s aquarium.” Its waters harbor 31 species
                                             Nowadays fishermen using atarrallas catch less         of marine mammals (39 percent of the world’s
                                             than 10 kilograms in a day.” In Solis’s village,       marine mammal species) and 891 species of fish,

            30	   Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                             
according to the U.N. Environment Program’s
World Conservation Monitoring Center. The U.N.                      BAJA CALiFoRniA PeninsuLA
declared the Sea of Cortez and 244 of its desert
islands a World Heritage Site in 2005.
                                                              TIJUANA                   UNITED STATES
    Today Baja is battling for its life against several                     TECATE
threats. Tourism-development projects are                                                OF AMERICA
destroying the very wildlife and habitat they invite                                        MEXICALI
visitors to explore. Tens of thousands of hotel              ENSENADA
rooms are being built without waste management
plans. Ever-increasing numbers of boaters,
sport-fishermen, kayakers, divers and swimmers
utilize the sea without any regulation. Freshwater           COLONET
supplies are running out. Air pollution is choking
even the most resilient of desert plants. In
                                                                                       SAN FELIPE
the face of these perils, Magdalena Baykeeper                    SAN
                                                             QUINTIN                        PUERTO
and Baja California’s five other Waterkeeper                                               PENASCO
organizations are racing the clock to defend and                  EL
                                                             ROSARIO                  PUERTECITOS
preserve their piece of paradise.
    Regarded as one of the 10 most important
wetland systems in North America, Magdalena
Bay is similar in size and productivity to
Chesapeake Bay in the United States. About 125
miles long and 12 miles across at its widest point,
it is one of the largest coastal lagoon complexes on
the Pacific side of the Baja California peninsula.                                       BAHIA DE
                                                                                         LOS ANGELES
The World Wildlife Fund ranks it as one of the 10
most important coastal habitats in Mexico as well
as one in desperate need of protection.
                                                                            GUERRERO NEGRO
    When Eastern Pacific gray whales migrate                     BAHIA
to this bay to mate and calve between late                       TORTUGAS
December and early April, tourists from all over                                               MEXICO
the world follow. Hotels, restaurants and shops
have sprung up to accommodate the foreigners
and in the process have worsened existing                                                       SANTA ROSALIA
problems of sporadic municipal waste collection                ABREOJOS
and lack of sewage treatment. Because San                                                        MULEGE
Carlos cannot afford the chemicals and reagents
necessary for treatment, both residential and                   Pacific Ocean                            Gulf of
commercial sewage is discharged into the bay. To                                                        California
                                                                                                       [SEA OF CORTEZ]
this day, most of San Carlos’s residents don’t have
a sanitary system and rely on pozos, outhouses                                                     LORETO
that freely leach into the bay. A tuna and sardine
cannery has discharged effluent directly into the
bay since operations began in the late 1960’s.
The excess organic matter leads to overgrowth
of algae. Sea lettuce chokes the bay’s waters and             PUERTO SAN CARLOS
low oxygen levels strain the bay’s productivity.
    “As much as 90 percent of the bay has
remained pristine,” Solis says, “but the shoreline
is contaminated with sewage, litter and debris.”                                                       LA PAZ
Endangered green, hawksbill, olive ridley and
loggerhead sea turtles rely on a healthy bay for
food and shelter; their numbers have declined                                              S
                                                                                TODOS SANTOS
dramatically over the past decades. The mangrove
forests, which host an array of bird species—many
of them endangered—are struggling.                                              CABO SAN LUCAS
                                                                                             S          SAN JOSE
    Similar threats affect all the waters of Baja Cali-                                                 DEL CABO
fornia, and Solis is taking the lead in uniting Baja’s six
Waterkeeper organizations to fight them together.	                                                                                        	Summer	2009	Waterkeeper Magazine		   31
                                                                                                        strain the remaining public-access areas. Beach
                                                                                                        erosion and water pollution are exacerbated by
                                                                                                        the lack of basic infrastructure such as bathrooms,
                                                                                                        parking and waste disposal even at commercially
                                                                                                        developed beaches. Meanwhile, sewage overflows
                                                                                                        directly into the bay. Government monitoring and
                                                                                                        enforcement action against illegal discharge—
                                                                                                        even when violations are identified—is almost
                                                                                                        nonexistent. And permits are under consideration
                                                                                                        for the construction of several desalinization
                                                                                                        plants—in addition to two already built—along the
                                                                                                        fragile coastline.
                                                                                                           Moctezuma refuses to give up the fight
                                                                                                        against self-interested government officials
                                                                                                        and irresponsible developers. The Los Cabos
                                                                                                        Coastkeeper is examining the permits granted for
                                                                                                        development projects that block the beach, with
                                                                                                        her eye out for violations of Federal Maritime Land
                                                                                                        Zone regulations. She is determined to increase
                                                                                                        public beach access and implement a tourism
                                                                                                        management plan. “Coastal zones are the common
                                                                                                        natural and cultural heritage of the people,” she
                                                                                                        says. “That is why Los Cabos Coastkeeper has
                                                                                                        been involved in making sure new planning
                                                                                                        schemes incorporate ecology and the needs of our
                                                                                                        watershed and communities for the sake of the
                                                                                        ANNA GOUzNOVA

                                                                                                        heritage that is left.”
                                                                                                           Moctezuma was victorious in her first battle.
                                                                                                        Los Cabos Coastkeeper won the certification of
                                                                                                        Chileno Beach Park as the first “Clean Beach”
Numerous sea turtle              Los Cabos                                                              designated in Mexico’s National Clean Beach
                                                                                                        Program. Once a hotel beach, Chileno was opened
species use Baja’s beaches
                                 At the southern end of the peninsula, Los Cabos
as their prime breeding                                                                                 to the public in the 1970’s. She forged a coalition
                                 Coastkeeper Martha Moctezuma defends Los Ca-
grounds, but the number                                                                                 that installed adequate infrastructure for the
of places where they can         bos County’s coast, 109 miles of sparkling beaches
                                                                                                        public use of the beach. “We feel that beaches are
safely lay their eggs is         and jagged cliffs between the towns of Cabo San
rapidly diminishing.                                                                                    sacred, not for commercial uses that reduce beach
                                 Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, both popular tourist
                                                                                                        quantity and quality,” says Moctezuma, who is
                                 destinations. Gray and humpback whales dwell
                                                                                                        currently working to gain the same certification
                                 nearby, along with whale sharks and five of the
                                                                                                        for El Dorado beach. “For us this is an incredibly
                                 world’s seven species of sea turtles. Most of Cabo
                                                                                                        important battle, because what we are not able to
                                 San Lucas Bay was declared a Natural Protected
                                                                                                        save will be lost forever.”
                                 Area by Mexico’s federal government in 1973, the
                                 country’s first Marine Protected Zone—mainly to
                                 protect the famous underwater sand falls, where                        La Paz
                                 sand flows over underwater cliffs. But today tour-                     About a three-hour drive north of Cabo San Lucas,
                                 ist-related development is slowly destroying the                       on the east coast of the peninsula, is the city of La
                                 natural environment.                                                   Paz. With a population of more than 200,000, La
                                     “I became a Coastkeeper because I realized the                     Paz differs from most Baja California communities
                                 need to do something about the pollution of our                        in that it is well equipped with highways, public
                                 arroyos and our bay,” says Moctezuma. “Someone                         transportation, ferry services and an international
                                 has to fight the corrupt authorities who grant                         airport. A prime destination for eco-tourists who
                                 permits to hotel owners and developers who limit                       come to explore the wonders of the Sea of Cortez,
                                 public access to our beaches and discharge sewage                      La Paz now faces serious issues of pollution and
                                 with no treatment.”                                                    unregulated tourism-related development. In less
                                     In the past few years alone, the number of hotel                   than a decade, the stands of mangroves on the
                                 rooms has increased by 30 percent, and 16 of the                       inner side of the Bay of La Paz have lost more than
                                 20 beaches once available to the public have been                      20 percent of their vegetation.
                                 converted to private, hotel-access-only areas. A                          Nearby, a similar percentage of mangroves
                                 growing population and increasing tourism greatly                      that are home to numerous bird species has been

32	   Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                                           
lost as a result of the destructive force of hotel
development. As is the case in most areas of the                                                La Paz Harbor’s
peninsula, the local sewage treatment plant is                                        unparalleled sunset views
inadequate, and sewage runoff and stormwater                                              are threatened by the
carry trash and debris into the bay.                                                    construction of a hotel
    La Paz Coastkeeper Peter Patterson came to
La Paz a decade ago to study marine sciences at
the Autonomous University but he instantly fell
in love with the unmatched beauty of the bay
and decided to make La Paz his home. He soon
witnessed the destruction wrought by reckless
development projects and understood the urgent
need to combat these threats. “I saw how acres of
vegetation were being removed, animals displaced
and habitats lost without anyone standing up
against these injustices,” he says. “I saw the urgent
need for someone to point out what people were
doing and the lies that were being told—like that
ecological damages were negligible—and I decided
to become a Waterkeeper.”
    The disclosure of a plan for a mega-development
project called Paradise of the Sea, which would
illegally destroy 260 acres of mangroves, stirred
Patterson to action in defense of the bay. In 2005,
with the help of a La Paz-based environmental law
organization, he initiated legal measures seeking
reconsideration of the permits granted for the
development. A year later Patterson attended
the Waterkeeper Alliance annual conference in
San Francisco and began pursuing his new life as
the La Paz Coastkeeper. “The annual conference
allowed me to meet people who are committed to
protecting our world,” he recalls, “and that inspired
me to continue fighting for this cause.”
    Although the Paradise-of-the- Sea development
is under way, Patterson has been successful in rais-
ing awareness about the effects of unchecked de-
velopment and in organizing opposition. His ability
to bring together local citizens and representatives
from local NGOs and La Paz’s university commu-
nity have made Patterson a particularly effective
advocate for a sustainable approach to development
that will preserve the beauty of the Bay of La Paz for
tourists and locals alike.

Loreto Bay
Further up the peninsula’s east coast, a two hour
drive northeast of San Carlos and Magdalena
Bay, Loreto Baykeeper Laura Escobosa faces
similar challenges. Loreto Bay National Park
covers the bay, five large islands, 19 islets and a
diverse array of habitats. Of the 3,452 marine and
terrestrial species documented in and around the
Sea of Cortez, 40 percent can be found within
this park. But the park is in grave peril.
   The Urban Development Plan proposed
                                                         ANNA GOUzNOVA

by FONATUR, Mexico’s national agency for
promoting tourism, and accepted by Loreto’s	                                                     	Summer	2009	Waterkeeper Magazine		 33
                  espiritu Santo Island off La
                  Paz includes a critical sea
                  lion rookery.

                                                 municipal government is expected to result in         been held where the developers have had to explain
                                                 a drastic increase in the number of tourists and      the effects of their projects, building awareness
                                                 residents in the area. In 2001, the population        and opposition in the community. “We won’t get a
                                                 of Loreto was 11,812. If development continues        second chance to save this sea,” she says.
                                                 at its projected rate, by some estimates the
                                                 population will reach 240,000 by 2025.
                                                     The Loreto Bay Company has already built          Punta Abreojos
                                                 Golden Beach, a master project with an 18-hole        Just south of Punta Abreojos, a fishing community
                                                 golf course, 1,600 hotel rooms, 6,374 houses,         450 miles from the U.S. border on Baja California’s
                                                 restaurants, a spa and a marina. Just north of        Pacific coast, lies the San Ignacio Lagoon. Fifteen
                                                 the city, a Spanish group is developing Loreto        miles long and nine miles wide, it is one of the last
                                                 Paraiso, which will boast 12 hotels with a total of   remaining undisturbed breeding grounds of the
                                                 7,000 rooms, four golf courses, 6,500 residential     Pacific gray whale.
                                                 units and a harbor that will dock 1,000 boats. A         While industrial pollution and development have
                                                 proposed series of marinas, Puerto Cortez, will       not been issues—the population of Punta Abreojos
                                                 attract growing numbers of recreational boaters,      hovers around 1,000—illegal fishing threatens this
                                                 increasing the number of boats visiting the Sea       habitat. Taking abalone, lobster and sea turtles is
                                                 of Cortez from about 8,000 per year to nearly         against the law, but the law is not enforced.
                                                 76,000 annually 20 years from now. None of these         In an effort to preserve the turtle population,
                                                 elaborate schemes incorporates adequate waste         Punta Abreojos Coastkeeper Javier Villavicencio
                                                 management systems. The possible damage from          works with the Tortugero Monitoring Group of
                                                 such a rapid increase in population could utterly     the Californias, a network of fishermen turned
                                                 destroy Loreto’s unique environment.                  conservationists that spans the peninsula,
                                                     Escobosa has worked tirelessly organizing         reporting the abundance, distribution, growth
                                                 community opposition and making sure local            rates and mortality incidence of sea turtles.
                                                 concerns about these development proposals are           Villavicencio is also organizing opposition to a
                                                 heard. Thanks to her efforts, town hearings have      proposal by the Mitsubishi Corporation to build a

            34	   Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                              
salt factory and attendant housing development.
And his work with a fishing cooperative in the
stewardship of the resources in their watershed
has been so effective in managing the lobster
fishery that they have been awarded the country’s
first eco-certification to such a facility.

Bahía de los Ángeles
At the northern end of the Sea of Cortez, Bahía
de los Ángeles Coastkeeper Gustavo Danemann
heads the peninsula’s newest Waterkeeper group.
Like his fellow Baja Waterkeepers, he is leading
local citizens in the fight against the excessive
tourism development and overfishing that
threaten this ecologically important area.
    In 2007, in response to vigorous advocacy by
Pronatura Noroeste (the parent organization of
Bahía de los Ángeles Coastkeeper), the Mexican
government established the Biosphere Reserve
Bahía de los Ángeles y Canales de Ballenas y
Salsipuedes along the eastern coast of the state
of Baja California. Unfortunately, follow-up and
enforcement by the authorities has been lacking.
To strengthen the hand of the Waterkeeper and
its allies, Danemann has gathered and published
scientific data on the area to serve as baseline
information from which the impact of future
tourism-development proposals can be assessed.
    Back in Puerto San Carlos, at the Magdalena                            Trash litters the coastline
Baykeeper’s storefront office in the town’s main                           of Puerto San Carlos, as it
plaza, Julio Solis is still at his desk, though the                        does many of Baja’s beaches,
                                                           ANNA GOUzNOVA

plaza’s other stores are shuttered for the evening.                        because of a chronic lack of
                                                                           sanitation services.
This is not the life he had planned for himself,
but he has no regrets. He is fighting for the
things he loves most in this world.
    Already well known as one of the most outspoken                        La Paz Coastkeeper only
conservationists in Baja, Solis speaks with passion                        recently launched their first
about the struggles of these last four years and of his                    official boat, which was
work with all of the region’s Waterkeeper organi-                          donated by a local supporter.
zations–fighting against private and governmental
schemes promoting tourism at the expense of Baja’s
irreplaceable natural treasures. “I’ve always been a
rebel,” he says. “But now I’m a rebel for conservation.”
    He marvels at what he and the other
Waterkeepers have achieved in such a short time.
    However, he knows there is still so much
to be done in the fight against planned mega-
developments and their powerful backers in
business and government.
    It would be easy to label the efforts of
Baja’s Waterkeepers as quixotic. Neither the odds
nor time are on their side. But the fire in Solis’s
eyes and in his voice tell you that it would be a
mistake to bet against this man and his movement.
    “Since it is humans who are at fault for the
damages to our world, it is we who must fix these
                                                           ANNA GOUzNOVA

problems,” says Solis. “No one has the right to
destroy our heritage.” Those who would try are
in for the fight of their lives.	                                                                                       	Summer	2009	Waterkeeper Magazine		 35
New Blue Legacy
California’s Waterkeepers are Pioneering
America’s First Marine national Parks.

                                     f there is any stronger and more effective ad-        protecting biodiversity; and preserve the state’s natu-
By Linda sheehan,
                                     vocate for our waters than a Waterkeeper, it’s a      ral, cultural and historical marine heritage.
executive Director,
                                     group of Waterkeepers working together. Take,             To implement the MLPA, California divided
California Coastkeeper
                                 for example, the California Coastkeeper Alliance          its coastal waters into several “study regions,” each
                                 (CCA)— which came together in 1999 as a coali-            with its own Science Advisory Team, Regional
                                 tion of Southern California Waterkeepers work-            Stakeholder Group and Statewide Interests Group.
                                 ing to implement a giant-kelp restoration project.        During the MLPA process, scientists identified
                                 Launched in 2001, the six-year project re-established     hundreds of species of fish, birds, marine mam-
                                 nearly 200,000 sq. feet of kelp beds, most of them        mals, invertebrates and plants likely to benefit from
                                 in Santa Monica Bay, and educated the public about        marine protected areas, and researched ecosystems
                                 the critical role of kelp forests in marine ecosystems.   important to the survival of those species.
                                 CCA has since expanded to include all 12 California           By 2007 the Fish and Game Commission had
                                 Waterkeepers, spanning the state’s entire coast.          established 29 marine protected areas covering 204
                                     CCA’s strength shows most clearly when its            sq. mi., including 85 sq. mi. designated as no-take
                                 members work closely on a joint venture. A good           zones in the first study region, the Central Coast.
                                 example is the organizations’ work on the imple-          The North-Central Coast’s protected areas are to be
                                 mentation of the California Marine Life Protection        established this summer; the South Coast’s in late
                                 Act (MLPA). Passed in 1999 with the strong support        2009, the North Coast’s in 2010, followed by San
                                 of California Waterkeepers, the MLPA directs the          Francisco Bay’s. The entire network of protected
                                 California Department of Fish and Game to develop         areas should be in place by 2011, making California
                                 and manage a network of marine protected areas off        the first state to enjoy the benefits of a scientifically
                                 the state’s shores. Similar to national parks on land,    conceived network of marine protected areas.
                                 marine protected areas are designated for preserva-           The California Coastkeeper Alliance and its
                                 tion by regulation of activities within their boundar-    member Waterkeepers, with their unique blend of
                                 ies. The goals of the MLPA are to protect the natural     statewide and local expertise, have been key par-
                                 diversity and abundance of marine life and the in-        ticipants in the implementation of the MLPA. The
                                 tegrity of marine ecosystems; improve recreational,       state has appointed CCA to the Statewide Interests
                                 educational, and study opportunities consistent with      Groups for all three study regions to date, enabling

36	   Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                                 
                                                            easy Glider: A sea lion
                                                            enjoys one of Southern
                                                            California’s giant kelp
California’s Waterkeepers to present their perspec-
tives. In particular, CCA has emphasized the need
to protect water quality in the marine protected
areas, a critical issue that might otherwise be given
insufficient attention in a process driven not by a
water-resources agency but by the state’s Fish and
Game department. For their part, the individual
Waterkeepers, with their close connections to lo-
cal communities, have been actively involved in the
development of the proposed boundaries of the
marine protected areas in their regions.
    In the Central Coast region, the Monterey
Coastkeeper and San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper have
tasked themselves with educating the public about
the 29 newly-designated protected areas in that
region, along with supporting enforcement. (Ob-
serving that many of the designated areas overlap
areas protected by water-pollution laws, San Luis
Obispo Coastkeeper Gordon Hensley wryly notes
that Waterkeepers’ pollution experience is essential
to marine-life protection, because “water shouldn’t
kill the things that live in it.”)
     In the North-Central Coast region, along the
San Francisco Peninsula north to Mendocino               to ensure that the MLPA uses the best science to
County, the Russian Riverkeeper and San Francisco        protect our ocean.”
Baykeeper have been making the case for a strong             San Diego Coastkeeper’s operations director,
network of protected areas to the Fish and Game          Kate Hanley, has been coordinating much of the
Commission, which will make its decision on this         Southern California Waterkeepers’ effort. “The
network in August. “I took part in the MLPA pro-         Waterkeepers have brought their local expertise
cess after I repeatedly saw endangered salmon and        and strong voice for marine ecosystem protection
steelhead being targeted by recreational fishermen       to the MLPA Initiative,” she says, “and their active
offshore, where the fish had no protection,” says        role in bridging gaps among interest groups will
Don McEnhill, Russian Riverkeeper. “Together with        lead to more effective marine protected areas.”
other stakeholders, we proposed a no-take marine             Humboldt Baykeeper will be actively involved
conservation area in the Russian River estuary and       in the upcoming North Coast study region process
just offshore of the river, which would protect criti-   in coordination with Klamath Riverkeeper, and
cal summer juvenile nursery habitat in the estuary       San Francisco Baykeeper will closely track the last
and adult pre-migration staging offshore.”               study region, in San Francisco Bay.
    In the South Coast Region, San Diego Coast-               In addition to weighing in at official MLPA ses-
keeper, Orange County Coastkeeper, Santa Monica          sions, Waterkeepers send out action alerts and mes-
Baykeeper, Ventura Coastkeeper and Santa Barbara         sages to their members to mobilize interested par-
Channelkeeper all have been working to develop           ties throughout the state to give testimony and send
marine protected area proposals that best ensure         in letters in support of marine protected areas. CCA
the conservation of important marine ecosystems.         supports the local groups with statewide funding         For more information on
San Diego and Orange County sit on that area’s Re-       assistance and is coordinating MLPA advocacy. As         the California Coastkeeper
gional Stakeholder Group, and Ventura Coastkeep-         an appointee of a key state bond oversight commit-       Alliance’s marine ecosystem
er is advocating for the first marine protected area     tee, CCA also works to provide specific recommen-        protection program and Giant
                                                                                                                  Kelp Restoration Project, see
to be co-managed by the state and Native American        dations on bond funding for clean-water projects in
tribes, to best achieve the cultural preservation and    designated marine protected areas.                       marine-protected-areas.php
education goals of the MLPA. CCA and Southern                “The California Coastkeeper Alliance’s local         and http://www.cacoastkeeper.
California Waterkeepers’ Giant-Kelp Restoration          engagement and statewide reach are a perfect fit         org/kelp-restoration.php.
                                                                                                                  For information on the
Project has provided data to guide the Southern          for the MLPA,” observes CCA’s Angela Haren, an
                                                                                                                  Alliance’s 12 Waterkeeper
California MLPA process, as have Santa Monica            appointee to both the current MLPA Statewide             organizations, see http://
Baykeeper’s aerial surveys and sub-tidal rocky-reef      Interests Groups and the state task force charged
research. “The sub-tidal research in Santa Monica        with directing state water-quality funding to proj-      california-waterkeepers.php.
Bay that we have done with Occidental College            ects that prevent pollution in marine protected ar-      To learn more about
                                                                                                                  California’s Marine Life
now comprises the most comprehensive rocky-reef          eas. “Together, the statewide Alliance and regional      Protection Act Initiative,
data set in our area,” says Santa Monica Baykeeper       Waterkeepers are leading the way in California for       see
Tom Ford, “and we aim to improve it even more            healthy, thriving marine ecosystems.”                    MLPA/.	                                                                                     	Summer	2009	Waterkeeper Magazine		 37
Urban Wilderness:
Finding Nature in the City
                                                                                                                           A flock of Canada Geese
                                                                                                                       gathered in the Union Pacific
                                                                                                                            railyards in the heart of
                                                                                                                    Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley.

                                                                                                                                           eDDee DANIeL

By eddee Daniel                              e put in, as usual, next to the concrete     waiting for our flotilla to pass.
                                             fishing pier in Lincoln Park. At this            We proceed, running gentle rapids, trying
                                             annual event, sponsored by Milwaukee         to identify birds and wildflowers, soaking up
                                  Riverkeeper, about 40 people, in 15 canoes and          sunshine; until, three hours later, we shoot the
                                  a handful of kayaks, pick up their paddles and          flume at North Avenue. Then, catching our
                                  leave Milwaukee behind. Immediately the natural         breath, we stare at the canyon of condominiums
eddee Daniel is a                 world surrounds us. Three painted turtles drop off      ahead, suddenly confronting a cacophony of
photographer, writer, activist    a log as a kayak veers toward them. A great blue        construction noise. It is hard not to be stunned
and arts educator, and serves     heron looks up from its catch in the shallows, then     by the contrast. For several miles, only the
on the board of directors
of Milwaukee Riverkeeper.
                                  erupts into flight. A dense wall of foliage lines the   occasional bridge and a couple of tall buildings
He is the author of Urban         banks of the impounded lake.                            broke our spell. And although it has been a near
Wilderness: Exploring a              If the dam that creates this lake is removed, as     magical interlude, it is no trick, the feeling of
Metropolitan Watershed,           advocated by Milwaukee Riverkeeper, this voyage         having had a wilderness experience in the middle
published in 2008 by the
                                  will become even more organic. After we portage         of the city: it is an essential part of the character
Center for American Places
at Columbia College, Chicago      around the dam, there are fewer and fewer signs         of the Milwaukee River.
and distributed by the            of the city as we wade into the rocky backwaters.           Efforts are under way to preserve not only
University of Chicago Press. It   Enormous black willows and cottonwoods lean             the land along the river corridor, but also
is the result of Daniel’s six-    over and nearly obstruct the two narrow channels.       the viewshed within it, thus maintaining the
year exploration of an urban
watershed, the Menomonee
                                  All of the canoes and most of the kayaks portage        enchantment of urban wilderness. The Milwaukee
River in Southeastern             the four-foot tumbling falls that come next. A few      River Greenway efforts are being spearheaded
Wisconsin.                        daring kayakers take the plunge.                        by Milwaukee Riverkeeper, along with the River
                                     A trio of radio towers briefly reminds us that we    Revitalization Foundation and the Urban Ecology
                                  are not nearly as isolated as we’ve come to believe.    Center, to protect over eight miles of river and a
                                  Then, below the Capitol Drive bridge, the wooded        combined 800 acres of natural area within the city.
                                  riverside bluffs become steeper and higher, and         Like many cities around the country, Milwaukee
                                  again we are free to imagine ourselves anywhere         is rediscovering and reinterpreting its relationship
                                  but in a densely populated city. We scrape the river    with its rivers and with nature.
                                  bottom, push on to deeper pools and watch the               The value of urban natural areas has been
                                  fish alongside. An angler in hip boots knows his        recognized since Frederick Law Olmsted
                                  secluded spot has been compromised; he casts idly,      formulated his widely emulated principles of

38	   Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                               
landscape design in the 19th century. Olmsted
believed in cities, but he also believed that their
inhabitants should live near the tranquility of
natural scenery to relieve the stresses of work and
the oppressiveness of enclosed spaces or hard
surfaces. Olmsted’s justly famous Central Park
in Manhattan is the crown jewel of New York
City’s 38,000 acres of parkland, many of which
still provide the element of surprise and discovery
that my fellow boaters and I experienced along the
Milwaukee River.
    During the early 20th century, many cities
across the United States created beautiful park
systems based on Olmsted’s ideas. Milwaukee had
the advantage of not only three parks designed by
Olmsted himself, but perhaps more significantly,
a vision and plan implemented by his admirer,
Charles Whitnall. As the first parks director,
Whitnall took Olmsted’s model and organized
Milwaukee’s park system along its network of
                                                        eDDee DANIeL

rivers and streams. Cheryl Nenn, Milwaukee’s
Riverkeeper, says enthusiastically, “Milwaukee is
unusual among American cities because it has
such an extensive system of riverside parks and                    simply walk along riparian trails in the shade of                 The autumn colors of a
                                                                   silver maples and poplars, stopping to sample              young poplar underneath the
natural areas.”                                                                                                                 freeway bridge that crosses
    In Milwaukee and elsewhere, the impetus to                     wild black raspberries in thickets, it is not mere          over the Menomonee Valley
create urban parks diminished in the rush to live                  recreation. These experiences provide a wondrous                in downtown Milwaukee.
in ever-expanding suburbs. More recently, the                      connection to the earth and to the wholeness
importance of urban natural areas has regained                     of existence. And when children are exposed to
the respect it once commanded, the combined                        these experiences they learn something much
result of the realization of the limitations and                   more important than natural sciences, biology and
excesses of suburban sprawl, and the urgency                       ecology. They learn the value of conservation and
of contemporary environmental issues such as                       the appropriate stewardship of nature.
biodiversity, habitat degradation, water quality,                      Where we can go to have these experiences             The concept
                                                                   is a critical question at this point in our nation’s
and sustainable living. Urban green space,
                                                                   history. “It’s immeasurably important,” says Nenn,
                                                                                                                             of an urban
important as it is for a variety of recreational
uses, contributes much more to the community,                      “to have a refuge to go to in the middle of the city,     wilderness
especially when it includes “wilderness” areas.                    to calm your mind, especially in current economic
                                                                   conditions when people have less money to travel.”
                                                                                                                             is relatively
The concept of an urban wilderness is a relatively
new one, and its success at capturing the public’s                 Even in better times there are people in inner            new...its
imagination is due in large part to a hunger for                   cities all across the country without the resources       success at
                                                                   to travel to and explore distant parks or nature
what it represents, as well as its inherent virtues.
                                                                   preserves. Nenn points out that states usually            capturing
    Defining urban wilderness proves to be a bit of
a Rorschach test, revealing more about a person’s                  preserve large or pristine areas, and land trusts         the public’s
                                                                   tend to acquire high quality land with an eye for
perspective and values than the characteristics
                                                                   conserving critical species habitats. Smaller urban       imagination
of a particular landscape. Definitions range from
the simply aesthetic—the unkempt appearance of                     properties with less biological significance are given    is due in
                                                                   lower priority. However, they serve a much greater
low-maintenance parklands, for example—to the
                                                                   population, and a much greater purpose, perhaps.
                                                                                                                             large part
scientific, with its concern for native species, soil
conditions and biodiversity.                                           The urgency of this issue is illustrated by           to a hunger
                                                                   the contrasting experiences of two other urban
    In my book, Urban Wilderness: Exploring a
                                                                   Waterkeepers. Sally Bethea, Atlanta’s Upper
                                                                                                                             for what it
Metropolitan Watershed, I wander freely among
these often divergent conceptual terrains. But                     Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, says that although             represents.
the definition I prefer does not involve physical                  Atlanta created parkland in a “string of pearls”
conditions in the landscape, but rather the                        along a 48-mile stretch of the river, “metro Atlanta
psychological, and even spiritual, experiences                     has very minimal green space as compared to
that are available to people who are immersed                      other cities of its size. Development has been
in a natural environment. When we shoot the                        taking place at a rate of 55 acres of hard surfaces
Milwaukee River rapids, fish in its pools, or                      every single day for the past decade.”	                                                                                                	Summer	2009	Waterkeeper Magazine		 39
                                                                                                Farther north, Baltimore is home to the most
                                                                                            polluted river entering the Chesapeake Bay—the
                                                                                            Patapsco. According to Baltimore Harbor
                                                                                            Waterkeeper Eliza Steinmeier, because urban
                                                                                            rivers so often are covered over with concrete and
                                                                                            freeways, many residents don’t even know where
                                                                                            they are. The waterfront is also industrialized
                                                                                            and mostly bulkheaded. But two efforts are
                                                                                            under way in Baltimore to reclaim some of the
                                                                                            natural heritage: a trail system linking parks along
                                                                                            tributaries to the Patapsco River and a major
                                                                                            waterfront master plan that includes preservation
                                                                                            of what little remains of natural shoreline. “It’s
                                                                                            amazing that despite over 100 years of pollution,
                                                                                            we still have life in our rivers,” Steinmeier says.
                                                                                            “It’s truly a testament to the resilience of the
                                                                                            river system. You can see fish, turtles, crabs, and
                                                                                            all kinds of birds. People are often astonished at
                                                                                            this fact.” Steinmeier recalls once, when she was
                                                                                            on patrol in the Waterkeeper boat, a group of
                                                                                            schoolchildren called to her hysterically from the
                                                                                            shore to come see something. “I thought it was
                                                                                            going to be some kind of chemical spill,” she says.
                                                                                            “But they were pointing to a crab attached to a
                                                                                            bulkhead. We need to bring people to the river,
                                                                                            show them a living river running through our city,
A small dam and a concrete                                                                  and then they might start to think about how to
channel were removed                                                                        protect it.”
from this section of the
                                                                                                Seeing a crab on a steel bulkhead may seem
Menomonee River to
improve water quality and                                                                   far from a wilderness experience, but it is a start.
enable fish migration–a                                                                     Milwaukee may be luckier than most cities, but
collaborative effort by                                                                     creating an urban wilderness is an important
Milwaukee Riverkeeper and                                                                   strategy for conservation everywhere. Indeed,
the Milwaukee Metropolitan
                                                                             eDDee DANIeL

Sewerage District.
                                                                                            because of the size of the populations they serve
                                                                                            and the relative difficulty conservationists face
                                                                                            in such settings, cities must be in the forefront
                                                                                            of the environmental movement. Some cities
                                                                                            have stepped up to the plate, with new standards
                                                                                            for “green” building and new awareness of
                                                                                            sustainability. But research has made it clear
                                                                                            that proximity to nature is critical to developing
                                                                                            what environmentalist and author Aldo Leopold
                                                                                            called the “conservation ethic.” Providing young
                                                                                            people with places nearby, where they can form
                                                                                            connections with nature, will ensure that this
                                                                                            ethic and the values embodied in the Waterkeeper
                                                                                            mission will endure.
                                                                                                Cheryl Nenn observes that the density of cities
                                                                                            is desirable since it reduces the effects of sprawl,
                                                                                            thereby allowing for the preservation of suburban
                                                                                            and exurban lands. But it is this very virtue of
                                                                                            cities that makes it essential to provide that
                                                                                            paradoxical urban wilderness experience in order
                                                                             eDDee DANIeL

                                          Colorful dame’s rocket reflected                  to prevent alienation from nature, and to create a
                                               through a concrete culvert.                  citizenry that values its stewardship.

40	   Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                               
Kiehl’s Superbly Restorative Preparations Containing 100% Fairly-Traded, Organic Argan Oil
               Visit to find your neighborhood Kiehl’s store.
                                                                                                                                    The Thimpu River in
                                                                                                                                    Bhutan, one of many
                                                                                                                              rivers in the region whose
                                                                                                                                  health is threatened by
                                                                                                                                 the rapid melting of the
                                                                                                                                     Himalaya’s glaciers.

The Struggle for Water at the
Top of the World
Almost half of the world’s people depend on the water flowing out
of the Himalayas. Climate change is making it harder to share it.
                                                                                                                                             SCOTT eDWARDS

                                        or centuries the Kosi River swept south from          roared down the plains of Bihar, charging through
                                        its sources in the Himalayas in Nepal and Ti-         dry riverbeds that had been long since settled and
By scott edwards,
                                        bet, ignoring all the artificial political boundar-   cultivated by millions of people. The flood destroyed
Legal Director,
                                 ies as it carried more than 80 million tons of fresh silt    250,000 homes, leaving more than two million
Waterkeeper Alliance
                                 deposits and monsoon waters to the plains of north-          people homeless and causing scores of deaths.
                                 ern India every day. Once it crossed into India, the         A quarter-of-a-million acres of much-needed
                                 Kosi followed a myriad of ancient, braided pathways          crops, including vegetables, wheat and rice, were
                                 through the state of Bihar before joining the Ganges         submerged and destroyed. The total economic
                                 River to the south. And for countless generations, in-       impact is still being calculated.
                                 habitants of the Bihar plains lived with the periodic            In January 2009 I visited Dr. Vandana Shiva,
                                 flooding and unpredictable course of the river. They         physicist, environmental activist and the founder
                                 also suffered the sometimes devastating effects of the       of Waterkeepers India, and representatives from
                                 seasonal flows that earned the Kosi River the nick-          India’s 12 Waterkeeper organizations, in New Delhi
                                 name “The Sorrow of Bihar.”                                  for an update on the local programs. I was also there
                                     In the mid-1950’s, the Indian government                 to take part in a planned regional meeting among all
                                 decided to try to tame the Kosi River. With the              of our Asian Waterkeeper programs in China, India
                                 cooperation of Nepal, the government began                   and Nepal. Also attending this gathering was one
                                 constructing a series of embankments along the               of our newest Riverkeepers, Sharif Jamel, from the
                                 eastern and southern riverbanks in southern                  Buriganga River in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
                                 Nepal. The plan was to deny the river its historic               The time we spent together provided a unique
                                 route through the Bihar plains and force a                   opportunity for the Indian and Bangladeshi
                                 consistent pattern of flow down one of its more              Waterkeepers to learn about one another’s cultures
                                 western channels. These embankments were                     and watersheds, to share ideas and strategies and
                                 completed in the early 1960’s.                               to talk about mutual concerns. Given the recent
                                     On August 18, 2008, the Kosi River decided it            Kosi flooding, damming and the regional effects
                                 was time to reclaim its past. The southern Nepal             of other water-diversion projects were at the top
                                 embankments failed and the waters once again                 of the list of items for discussion and reflection.

42	   Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                                  
The conversation quickly expanded to the issue
of cross-boundary impacts of governmental
decisions that were often made in a vacuum, with
little regard for the consequences on neighboring
states. For example, the Indian Waterkeepers were
surprised to learn from their Bangladeshi colleague
that government plans in eastern India to dam the
Brahmaputra River would lead to a 40 percent loss
of water for an already drought-ridden Buriganga
River watershed in downstream Dhaka.
    After two days of discussion, it became
abundantly clear that one of the biggest water

                                                         SCOTT eDWARDS
issues facing southern Asia is the failure of
Himalayan nations to recognize the impact that
their actions are having on neighboring countries
and communities. River embankments in Nepal
burst wide open causing devastating flooding in
downland areas of India. While India is rushing
to build dams across the northern reaches of the
country, China seeks to outdo the Indians on the
same river in Chinese territory. Neither government
contemplates the dire consequences that their
activities will have on Bangladesh and its reliance
on seasonal flows from both Indian- and Chinese-
originated rivers. At the same time, both China and
India are constructing mega coal-fired power plants
with little regard for their impact on climate change
and the glaciers in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan, which are
melting at a rate faster than anywhere else on earth.
    Luckily, largely driven by concerns of climate
change and water scarcity issues, there is a grow-
ing awareness among Himalayan communities of
the need to build systems of communication and
cooperation that transcend political boundaries. Fix-
ing problems on a local level, while critical in many
ways, cannot solve the many problems facing a region
where hundreds of rivers flow out of mountains con-
trolled by other governments.
    Dr. Shiva and India’s Waterkeepers have
taken the lead in developing strategies to form
relationships among community activists across
national borders. They are planning a satra – a
community-based march and gathering – that
                                                         SCOTT eDWARDS

will wind its way along the Brahmaputra River
on the Indian side of the border with Bangladesh.
The Buriganga Riverkeeper, Sharif Jamel, will lead
a similar march on the Bangladesh side, and the
two groups plan to meet right on the boundary                        a successful effort by ordinary citizens to craft an                      Top: Boatmen on
between the two nations for a day of peaceful                        agreement for dialogue, education and cooperation.                Bangladesh’s Buriganga
                                                                                                                                         River, which could lose
protest, awareness-building and consensus. Other                         At the 2009 Waterkeeper Alliance conference in            critical amounts of water to
possible satras being considered include one where                   New York City in June, Waterkeepers from India,                  the diversion schemes of
the Kosi River flows from Nepal into India, the site                 Bangladesh, Nepal and China will be working on               neighboring nations upriver.
of a recent devastating flood in India caused by the                 the wording of the pact. It is our hope that the
                                                                                                                                 Above: Child at a Katmandhu
breach of an artificial embankment in Nepal.                         treaty can be finalized for an Asian regional meeting
                                                                                                                                        pottery market, one of
    To compensate for the lack of communication and                  in late 2009 or early 2010. Waterkeepers India is              many water-intensive local
cooperation among neighboring Himalayan nations,                     planning a range of activities to mark and celebrate         industries threatened by the
Dr. Shiva has also proposed a treaty among all Asian                 the signed treaty during the 2010 Kumbh, one of the          effects of climate change on
Waterkeepers and other Asian advocates. Where                        holiest of river festivals, which is held in India only         Nepal’s glacial-fed rivers.

governments are failing, the treaty would represent                  once every 12 years.	                                                                                                   	Summer	2009	Waterkeeper Magazine		 43

                                                                                                                      Middle Han Waterkeeper
                                                                                                                         operates China’s first
                                                                                                                        pollution-control boat.

       Green Leap Forward?
       China’s Middle Han Waterkeeper is a leader in the country’s bottom-up

                                                                                                                                                    STePHANIe VON STeIN
       movement to put sustainability in front of economic growth.

                                         ven in the midst of the global economic         may be able to reverse its environmental crisis.
By stephanie von                         downturn, China’s leadership continues to           Economic development and climate change
stein, Asia Program                      push for rapid economic development, but        are moving China toward overall water scarcity.
Coordinator,                     forces stronger than the global financial system may    Climate change is exacerbating the shortage of
Waterkeeper Alliance             threaten China’s future growth. After decades of        water in China’s already arid industrial north, and
                                 breakneck economic expansion, China’s natural re-       rampant water pollution throughout the country
                                 sources have been poisoned and virtually exhausted.     renders a large portion of available water unusable
                                 And of all the country’s environmental challenges, it   for consumption, agriculture or even industry.
                                 is the water crisis that could cause China’s economy    In order to partially alleviate the water shortages
                                 to slow dramatically in the near future.                facing the North China Plain, home to 200 million
                                     I recently visited China with Pete Nichols, the     people, the Chinese government has embarked on
                                 Humboldt Baykeeper in Northern California,              a massive water diversion plan, first conceived by
                                 to assess the fledgling Chinese Waterkeeper             Mao Zedung in 1952.
                                 movement. It is easy to lose hope as you travel             The South-North Water Transfer Project, as
                                 around China seeing the constant construction           it is officially known, would channel 12 trillion
                                 going on to satisfy the needs of a vast population      gallons of water per year from the relatively wet
                                 requiring food, water and shelter, and desiring a       southern and western regions of China to the drier
                                 modern standard of living. But when you board           north via three main water channels—an eastern,
                                 the Middle Han Waterkeeper’s boat—the first             central and western route. In 2002, the plan was
                                 nongovernmental pollution-patrol boat in China;         approved and construction begun on the eastern
                                 or when you watch Yun Jianli, the Middle Han            route, running from the southeastern provinces
                                 Waterkeeper, in action, spiritedly educating            of Zhejiang and Jiangsu up to Beijing. A year later,
                                 practically every human being she encounters; or        construction began on the central route, which
                                 when you attend a routine river cleanup organized       originates in Hubei Province. Work has not yet
                                 by the Middle Han Waterkeeper, and 15,000 people        begun on the controversial western route, which
                                 show up, you begin to have hope that China yet          would involve tunneling through the Himalayas in

44	   Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                             
Tibet to channel water from the Yarlung Tsangpo                         over the course of 2008, including students, office
River to China’s northwestern cities. The total                         workers, villagers and officials up and down the
internal cost of the project is estimated to be about                   central section of the Han River. Waterkeeper
$62 billion. The external costs of the project will                     provides information on sources of pollution, and
be enormous. Many prominent scientists and                              teaches the practical steps individuals can take to
environmentalists have sounded alarms about those                       avoid polluting their waterway. The fact that the
heavy external costs, which include massive forced                      Middle Han Waterkeeper receives at least one tip
relocations, loss of cultural artifacts, and irreparable                per week on its water pollution hotline evidences
damage to rivers connected to the system.                               a growing awareness on the part of local citizens
   The Han River in Hubei Province, home to                             about water pollution and their right to be citizen
the Middle Han Waterkeeper, is the river that                           advocates for their rivers.
will suffer most when the central route begins                              The Middle Han Waterkeeper is part of a
operating in 2014. A tributary of the Yangtze, the                      small national network of water advocates who
Han will be the water source for the route. Yun                         provide data for a web-based water pollution map
Jianli, Middle Han Waterkeeper, is working against                      run by a private, not-for-profit organization in
time to ensure that her river is clean enough to                        Beijing headed by one of China’s most prominent
withstand the impending loss of one third of its                        environmental heroes, Ma Jun. The map is an
                                                                                                                                    Middle Han Waterkeeper
flow to the South-North Water Transfer Project’s                        exciting and important tool in China’s efforts
                                                                                                                                         Yun Jianli, right, with
Danjiangkou Reservoir, 50 miles upstream of her                         toward solving its water pollution crisis. Thanks to      another local water activist,
hometown, Xiangfan.                                                     its constant presence on the river and its extensive        at the Danjiangkou Dam,
   Yun’s parent organization, Green Hanjiang,                           network of volunteer monitors, the Middle Han              which will siphon off one-
began working to clean up the central section                           Waterkeeper program is pioneering citizen-led                 third of the Han River’s
                                                                                                                                 water when the central route
of the Han River in 2002. Yun says that because                         environmental advocacy in China, a movement                   of China’s South-North
the water transfer project cannot be stopped,                           that must play a prominent role if China is to                Water Diversion Project
the best strategy to save her river is to work to                       move toward a more sustainable future.                      begins operation in 2014.
reduce pollution in it as much as possible, so that
the quality of the remaining river water will not
plummet to an unusable level after the opening of
the water transfer project in 2014.
   Since Yun joined Waterkeeper Alliance as the
Middle Han Waterkeeper in the spring of 2007,
she and her small staff have trained hundreds
of villagers along the central reaches of the Han
River and its tributaries to serve as local water
quality monitors, who can alert the Waterkeeper
to changes in water quality in their local stretch
of the river. Armed with their reports, she and
her staff can work with the local environmental
authorities to resolve problems at their source.
   Since the acquisition of a patrol boat in March
2008, the ability of the Middle Han Waterkeeper
to patrol and educate has improved significantly,
and the Waterkeeper frequently assists the
local environmental authorities in investigating
suspected water pollution violations. For example,
while on patrol the Middle Han Waterkeeper staff
discovered higher than normal pollution levels in
the river near two chemical fiber manufacturing
plants. The Waterkeeper worked with local
environmental authorities over the course of
several months and finally secured a commitment
from the two manufacturers to install improved
wastewater treatment facilities at their factories.
   The Middle Han Waterkeeper believes that, in
addition to the enforcement of water pollution
                                                           STePHANIe VON STeIN

laws, citizen education is a key to the future of
the Han River. Yun estimates that the Middle Han
Waterkeeper program reached 22,000 citizens	                                                                                                   	Summer	2009	Waterkeeper Magazine		 45

46	   Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009
numbers Game
Maybe the biggest obstacle to getting most people to stand up and
take notice of global climate change is that it can all sound pretty
abstract—as if it were someone else’s, someplace else’s problem.
So here’s a number that should bring things down to earth—350.

        hree-hundred-and-fifty turns out to be the       to do a little of that, but what we really need is
                                                                                                                  By Bill Mckibben
        most important number in the world, even         for you to come up with something creative that
        though no one knew it just 18 months ago.        will drive home that number. We’ll have climbers
Our best climatologists now tell us that 350 parts per   high in the Himalayas stamping the number into
                                                                                                                  environmentalist and author Bill
million is the most carbon dioxide we can have in the    the snow, and 350 scuba divers off the Great             McKibben led the organization
atmosphere without wrecking the planet. Problem          Barrier Reef. The other day we received an email         of the largest demonstrations
is: we’re already at 387 ppm. That’s why the Arctic is   from Abakaliki, Nigeria, where organizers are            against global warming in U.S.
rapidly melting; why Lake Powell, the second largest     planning to get 3,500 people to plant 3,500 trees.       history in 2007. His first book,
                                                                                                                  The End of Nature, published
reservoir in the U.S., may never fill in again; why      I’d never heard of Abakaliki before — but then,          in 1989, is regarded as the first
the pH of the oceans is rapidly changing, with dire      the people of Abakaliki have probably never heard        book for a general audience
consequences for everything that lives there.            of Winston-Salem, or Portland, or Tallahassee, or        about climate change. He is a
    As part of the giant global day of action,   Augusta, or wherever you might be.                       scholar in environmental studies
                                                                                                                  at Middlebury College where
on the 24th of October, it is vital that Waterkeepers        That’s the point. When the day is over, we’ll
                                                                                                                  he also directs the Middlebury
everywhere help organize actions and raise               have thousands of images from around the world,          Fellowships in environmental
awareness. If we don’t, our already rising oceans        and we’ll make sure that every delegate to that          Journalism. He is now leading a
will cause salt pulses to enter inland rivers; melting   conference in Copenhagen, and every member of            global campaign to fight climate
snowpacks and increasing drought will turn many          every parliament, knows what happened in their           change with the group
streams into trickles; and vanishing icepacks will       district or state or capital. (Something else about
mean the Great Lakes will be increasingly exposed        Abakiliki, and the Maldives, and Bangladesh, and
to the sky, dramatically lowering their levels.          the Congo, and Quito, and a thousand other places
    But the real reason to take on action on the 24th    we’ve heard from about participating: they haven’t
is because Waterkeepers, and their thousands of          put much carbon into the atmosphere. This
supporters in communities across America and             predicament isn’t their fault.)
across the world, have boats. And we need your               We will have succeeded on October 24, if
boats: canoes, rafts, schooners, yachts, sailboats,      delegates arrive in Copenhagen knowing that
dinghies, those inner-tubes-with-legs that fly           they must do more than simply produce a treaty.
fishermen use. If it floats, we need it. Badly.          They must produce a treaty that actually respects
    If scientists have gotten the message, our           the science, that answers the question: Will this
political leaders haven’t. They’re gathering in          stabilize the planet? Will it keep rivers flowing,
Copenhagen in December to draw up a new treaty           marshes thriving, fish swimming?
on the climate. But so far their drafts are too timid        There are no guarantees. Some scientists think
— they don’t reflect the latest science, which calls     we’ve already waited too long to start now, that the
for urgent action, and soon.                             changes occurring in the Arctic and elsewhere have
    So come fall, about six weeks before                 built up such momentum that they can’t be reversed.
Copenhagen, we at are organizing one             Some political scientists think that the big energy
heck of a global bash. On October 24, there will be      companies have so much political power, they will
rallies and events in thousands of locations around      inevitably defeat our best efforts. They may be right
the world, all designed to draw attention to that        — we clearly should have gotten started long ago. But
number: 350. If we do our job well, by the next day      the best science shows there’s still a narrow window,
the most important number in the world will also         closing fast, through which we can scamper.
be the most well-known. Think of it as a march on            We can’t do it one light bulb at a time — that
Washington, except different.                            won’t bring change fast enough. But we can do it
    For one thing, it’s going on where you already       one rally at a time. I close my eyes and imagine 350
are. It’s incompatible with our message to drive to      fishermen fly-casting from the same bank, or a team
Washington, D. C. to protest global warming, sure,       of canoes forming a “350” in a river somewhere, or
but more to the point, you know what counts in           350 people swinging off a rope swing…
your community, what aspects of the natural world            Waterkeepers know how to organize people.
make your neighbors love it and want to defend           They know how to spread the message that both
it, whether it’s eating crabs, fishing for trout or      their local waterway and the global water system
rafting whitewater.                                      are under grave threat. That knowledge, and
    For another, this won’t involve quite so much        the selflessness that goes with it, are what we’re
standing around listening to speeches. It’s fine         counting on at, and on October 24th.	                                                                                     Summer	2009	Waterkeeper Magazine		 47
                                          In the images in his “Industrial Scars” series, photographer J Henry Fair documents the unsustainable
                                          consumption of the earth’s natural resources. His aim, he says, is to make the photos “beautiful and
                                          frightening simultaneously.”

on The Water                              This aerial photo, titled “expectoration,” shows a plume of foam in bauxite waste—called “red mud”—in the
                                          impoundment at an aluminum processing plant in Louisiana. Producing aluminum metal involves refining
                    J Henry Fair          bauxite ore, using caustic chemicals and tremendous amounts of electricity to produce alumina, and the
                                          electrolytic reduction of alumina to produce aluminum. This captures the disposal of the byproducts, which
                                          include large amounts of toxic lead and mercury. Also, during primary aluminum production, PFCs (CF4 and
                                          C2F6) are emitted as byproducts of the smelting process, both significant greenhouse gases. You can view
                                          more of Fair’s amazing, alarming photos at

48	   Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                                 	   Summer	2009	Waterkeeper Magazine		 49
‹‹‹‹‹‹ sounding off ›››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››
                                                                                                  sums in infrastructure — all those pipelines and
                                                                                                  power plants represent what an economist would
                                                                                                  call “sunk cost.” If you built a big coal-fired power
                                                                                                  plant in the last few years (and China, for instance,
                                                                                                  has built many) then you’re counting on that asset
                                                                                                  performing for decades to come, and paying off the
                                                                                                  money you invested.
                                                                                                      Which is one reason why it’s been so hard to
                                                                                                  make any real progress on controlling carbon
                                                                                                  emissions. The amount of money that will need

                      Fossil Fools
                                                                                                  to be “bailed out” if we get serious about slowing
                                                                                                  global warming dwarfs even the money we’ve had
                                                                                                  to pour into our banks in recent months to keep
                                                                                                  them solvent. And since the meltdown meltdown is
                        By Bill Mckibben                                                          a (slightly) slower motion crisis than the financial
                                                                                                  meltdown, it’s hard to muster the political will.
                                                                                                      But it’s also true that most of us are simply in
                                                                                                  the habit of burning coal and gas and oil — in
                                                                                                  the habit of our current lives. We’re used to food

                                                 ere curious aliens to travel to Earth and        coming from the supermarket, even though in
                                                 land somewhere in the U.S. for some              our industrial food system that means a grape
                                                 observational research, they might well          has to travel 2,000 miles to reach our lips, thus
                                     describe our species as bipedal devices for the              guaranteeing that it arrives marinated in crude
                                     combustion of fossil fuel.                                   oil. We’re used to living in enormous homes great
                                         It’s true we do a lot of interesting things: grow        distances from each other — a primary component
                                     a huge surplus of food, conduct seemingly endless            of the American Dream in recent decades. We’re
                                     wars, travel great distances, play Scrabble on our           used to taking private transit everywhere we go
                                     iPods. But it’s also true that behind all those activities   without thinking about it.
                                     lies the burning of coal, gas and oil. It’s not simply a         The only thing that can cure our society of these
                                     part of our economy—it is our economy. One barrel            habits is a swift rise in the price of fossil fuel. Put
                                     of oil, depending on how you calculate it, contains          another way: Changing your lifestyle is a good
                                     more energy than a year’s worth of manual labor.             idea, but if you want enough people to change so
                                         Our economy didn’t really start to grow until the        to lower significantly the amount of carbon in the
                                     18th century, when we learned how to burn coal for           atmosphere, then you need, as the economists say,
                                     fuel (though our egregious fossil fuel habit really          to get the prices right. When gasoline rose to $4
                                     kicked in only after World War II). Before that we           a gallon last year, people started driving less for
                                     depended on the power of the moment: sunlight                the first time since the invention of the car. SUVs
                                     that grew the crops that fed us; our draft animals;          suddenly became toxic — an entire nation got
                                     rain; wind. But all of a sudden, with the discovery          over its forest ranger fantasies almost overnight.
                                     of fossil fuel, we were able to reach backward in            The market for houses in the outermost suburbs
                                     time. Consider the scale: In 200 years we’ve taken           collapsed, while homes near train stations held
                                     hundreds of millions of years of life — all those old        most of their value.
                                     ferns and plankton and dinosaurs — and figured                   Somehow we have to summon the political
                                     out ways to exploit them. The carbon pouring                 resolve to put higher prices on our own energy
                                     out of your car’s exhaust pipe is carbon that had            use, and we have to do it quickly, even in the face
                                     been safely stored away for eons, and in a quick             of massive opposition from vested interests. That
                                     commute, it is in the sky. So it comes as no great           sounds like a tall order, and it is. The first task is
                                     wonder that it’s causing problems. (The wonder               to build a movement that can press for change.
                                     would be if it weren’t causing problems!)                    Until fighting global warming comes with a real
                                         Because fossil energy has been so central to our         constituency, not enough will happen. It’s sobering
                                     economy, vast quantities of money have been made             to recall, for instance, that a hundred years
                                     drilling and refining it — eight of the ten largest          elapsed between the end of slavery and the end of
                                     companies in the world last year were energy                 segregation. It took a movement.
                                     companies, and a ninth, General Electric, has                    I wish I could guarantee that a movement
                                     quite a bit to do with energy, as its name implies.          around climate change will achieve the same results
                                     Each of the last three years, ExxonMobil has made            this time. But this is the hardest problem humans
                                     more money than any company in history. Way                  have ever tackled, and we may have waited too long
                                     more, in fact: upward of $40 billion. In addition,           to get started. But given the stakes, it’s worth every
                                     the entire energy industry has invested enormous             ounce of fight we’ve got.

    50	   Waterkeeper Magazine	Summer	2009	                                                                                   

As members of a farmer-owned cooperative, we have the              e
freedom to do things the way nature intended. We never use         e
antibiotics, synthetic hormones or pesticides. Our cows graze      e
in rich, local pastures. And we treat our customers, animals      s,
and environment with respect. You see, like all Organic Valley     y
farmers, we take a lot of pride in putting food on your table tha at
is both healthy and delicious. After all, if it says Organic Valley,
it has our name on it.

© 2009 Organic Valley Family of Farms
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